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Station Fire reports spark heated controversy

November 19, 2009 12:06:54 AM PST
Dueling assessments of attack strategies on the massive Station Fire have sparked heated debate between the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service.The Forest Service, which had primary control over the firefighting effort, took exception Wednesday to criticism issued earlier by L.A. County Fire officials in a 41-page report that recommends USFS policy be changed to allow nighttime aerial attacks on fires, among other things.

The Forest Service said the county did not voice its concerns during the federal agency's recent Station Fire internal review, which included input from County Fire and Cal Fire officials. The Forest Service review determined that the USFS used "best professional practices" in response to the fire, which erupted Aug. 26.

"L.A. County did not raise these issues during our review," the Forest Service said in Wednesday's statement, which was reported by the Los Angeles Times. "We stand by our report."

The L.A. County Fire Department's recommendations await county Board of Supervisors action before they will be forwarded to the Secretary of Agriculture and appropriate members of Congress, according to a memo from County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman.

CNS contributed to this report.