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SCVNews.com | Antonovich Calls on Feds to Change Firefighting Ways | 09-09-2011
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June 23
1946, 11:20pm: William S. Hart, 81, dies at L.A.'s California Lutheran Hospital, leaving his Newhall home and 80-acre estate to L.A. County [story]


“It has been two years since the Station Fire devastated 160,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest and killed two Los Angeles County firefighters, yet the federal government continues to drag their feet in concluding investigations and adopting needed reforms,” County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich said in a letter to Senator Feinstein (read it here).

According to the Riverside Press Enterprise, the U.S. Forest Service has again missed its deadline to complete studies needed to shape the agency’s future aerial firefighting strategy.  ”The Federal government’s delay puts our communities at risk with the U.S. Forest Service’s antiquated firefighting policies largely unchanged,” Antonovich said.

Within a few months of the Station fire, the Los Angeles County Fire Department issued its report on its investigation and recommendations to the Forest Service on preventing future catastrophes.  Approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, it included nighttime air attacks, procedural changes, tougher brush clearance requirements and the use of mechanized firefighting equipment.

Congressional hearings have revealed it was the U.S. Forest Service, as the lead agency, that failed to communicate effectively, and forced other agencies to stand idly by as the boots-on-the-ground waited for orders to proceed from its command center in Idaho.  Ineffective at fighting wildfires on the urban-wildlife interface, their prohibition of night-flying aircraft prevented early containment as County Fire pilots waited anxiously on the tarmac.

“Significant structural changes must be made before the next major wildfire destroys any more lives, property and National Forests,” Antonovich said.

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