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Station Fire report to be released in fall

April 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Homeowners devastated by the Station Fire are looking for answers. Thursday residents found out what is being done to avoid similar mistakes that were made fighting that massive blaze.

"This was our home and our pad. We had a three-bedroom and a beautiful lawn," said Rob Driscoll, who lost his home in the 2009 Station Fire.

For Driscoll, a peaceful stream is one of the few reminders of what was. He says about 20 homes around him in the Big Tujunga Canyon area are still rubble.

"It took our homes," said Driscoll. "It took things that my wife still wakes up in the middle of the night wanting."

It was all lost in the Station Fire, the largest in L.A. County history. The blaze left two dead and hundreds of structures destroyed.

Thursday homeowners hoped to hear from fire officials about lessons learned at a community meeting. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) asked the U.S. Forest Service to not only use water-dropping helicopters during the day, but by choppers that work at night.

"That should have been done long ago, it should have been done by now. It needs to get done," said Schiff.

But the Forest Service says it's still not sure if it has the funds.

"We're undertaking a detailed economic feasibility study," said Tom Harbour, director of fire and aviation at the U.S. Forest Service.

The Government Accountability Office announced it won't release its report on the 2009 fire until fall 2011.

"I am not here to share any of our preliminary findings," said Government Accountability Office Assistant Director Stephen Gaty. "At this point we're not at liberty to discuss findings."

It was learned that some 98,000 acres of land, including hiking trails, will be re-opened. But for many people who once lived here, Thursday's answers weren't enough.

"There has to be a better way to get to the bottom of what happened than to watch top management stonewall and lie about what happened," said one area resident.

"What happens if one breaks out in Glendora tomorrow? Are we going to have planes? I don't know if we are or not," said Driscoll. "Did you take that away? I don't know. Two years and we're still evaluating? It just doesn't make sense to a lot of us."