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Crews make significant progress on fire

September 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Firefighters are making significant progress on the Station Fire burning in the San Gabriel Mountains.Crews successfully carried out a controlled burn early Thursday to remove the threat to the Mount Wilson Observatory and nearby broadcast communications towers.

"We control the fire under our terms, under what we call a controlled fire," said Capt Carlos Guerrero of the Glendale Fire Department. "We can try to remove the fuel from the fire itself so when the fire does get to a certain location, if it runs out of fuel, then the fire will put itself out."

The controlled burn had been postponed for three straight days before an improvement in wind conditions allowed firefighters to carry it out overnight, amid cooler temperatures.

The 16-day-old fire is 71 percent contained and has charred more than 160,300 acres. Full containment, which is expected on Tuesday, requires building 19 more miles of fire lines.

The plan is to burn out about 1,000 acres.

Fighting the arson-sparked blaze has cost more than $71 million.

The Station Fire is the largest fire in L.A. County history.

Around 3,650 firefighters continue to battle the blaze, which still threatens nearly 4,000 structures.

"We've put them in there for really up to a four-day period," said Capt. Mark Savage of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. "They're getting into some areas that are very inaccessible and they're getting a lot of work done. But that's a key component right now and the tactic is to fly the crews in, leave them there and to accomplish the task of containing the fire for some of the problem areas that still exist."

The eastern flank of the fire remains uncontrolled. The fire has been contained from the southwest of Little Rock to Pacoima Canyon and from the Magic Mountain Wilderness to La Canada-Flintridge.

Two firefighters were killed battling the Station Fire on August 30. A public memorial service will be held for Capt. Ted Hall and firefighter Specialist Arnie Quinones on Saturday at Dodger Stadium at 10 a.m.

ABC7 will carry it live beginning at 10 a.m. on our digital channel 7.2, as well as on abc7.com. Check here for ABC7 channel locations on your satellite or cable provider.

Arson investigators believe the fire was intentionally set in an area near the Angeles Crest Highway. A $100,000 reward from the state and $50,000 from the county have been offered to find whoever started the fire.

The arsonist could face murder charges after two firefighters were killed. Hall and Quinones both died when their vehicle went over the side of a steep mountain road. Investigators said the vehicle was airlifted off a mountain Monday and taken to a secure location for analysis.

Thirteen firefighters and one support worker have also been injured in the fire fight.

The fire has also destroyed 78 homes, as well as two commercial properties and 86 outbuildings.

Authorities are asking for the public's help to find the person or persons responsible for starting the Station Fire. Anyone with information is asked to call L.A. County Sheriff's homicide detectives at (323) 890-5500.

People wishing to donate money to help the families of the two fatally injured firefighters can send donations to:

Memorial fund at the F&A Credit Union
P.O. Box 30831
Los Angeles, CA 90030-9972

The Station Fire broke out Aug. 26 near a Forest Service ranger station at mile marker 29. The heavy brush and low humidity caused the fire to spread rapidly.

The following roads are open to residents only:

  • Highway 39 is open to Camp Williams
  • Big Tujunga Canyon Road at Mount Gleason
  • Little Tujunga Canyon Road and Live Oak Campground
  • Little Tujunga Canyon Road 1/4 mile north of the Wildlife Way Station
  • Aliso Canyon Road at Y8
  • Aliso Canyon Road at Angeles Forest Highway

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