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Report: Station Fire response adequate

November 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The largest wildfire in Los Angeles County history grew so big because of terrain, not a lack of firefighting resources, according to a federal review released Friday.The Forest Service has been looking into its own handling of the Station Fire. Government documents show the number of ground crews and aircraft were reduced the evening of Aug. 26, the first night of the fire, leading some to suggest the early response was bungled.

But the Forest Service says more resources would not have helped and that the fire spread so quickly because it jumped into inaccessible terrain. The report said bringing in aircraft without ground crews to help would have been ineffective.

"Additional resources during the evening of Aug. 26 and morning of Aug. 27 would not have improved the effectiveness of operations during that operational period and would have resulted in needless exposure of firefighters to the hazards of wild land fire," the report said.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich disputed the findings, insisting the Forest Service miscalculated by not bringing in more aircraft in the early hours of the fire.

Had more aircraft been used, including at night, when the Forest Service is hesitant to fly, "the fire would not have spread," Antonovich said in a statement Friday.

AP contributed to this report.


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