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Hearing to delve into Station Fire response

October 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Did concerns over costs slow the U.S. Forest Service's initial response to last year's devastating Station Fire? That question is at the center of a congressional hearing that will be convened in Pasadena Tuesday.The catastrophic fire left two firefighters dead as it fanned out across thousands of acres. Accusations are being leveled against the U.S. Forest Service.

The foothills still show the scars left behind by the Station Fire. Miles of brush burned up by the flames are starting to grow again. Residents who live in the shadows of the hills are upset the Forest Service may have delayed calling in reinforcements because it was hesitant about the cost.

"There was a lot of worry and concern, and if it's paying a few people to spray what was a controllable fire at the time, yeah, money should not be a consideration," said Glendale resident Tom Farrell.

The Station Fire burned for six weeks. It's the largest in Los Angeles County's history, burning 250 square miles and destroying dozens of homes.

A new report says the Forest Service had issued a memo to reduce spending; the report indicates that might have influenced decisions not to use certain resources that were available.

"This report said that there were state tanker crews, state and local tanker crews very close by that ended up getting sent to San Diego," said U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-29th District). "And instead, there were federal resources that had to be brought from farther away and that was a loss of critical time."

"It's pretty disappointing if you know that the whole thing was about the money and the budgeting issue," said Glendale resident Duke Khodaverdian.

Khodaverdian says he saw the fire get very close to his house and he believes that never had to happen.

"The Forest Service should have just jumped on it because the fire was so close to the residential area," said Khodaverdian. "So many homes got affected, so many people's lives got affected."

Schiff will convene a congressional panel to investigate if any mistakes were made and if there should be any changes. That is scheduled for Tuesday in Pasadena.


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