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Station fire flare-up prompts cancellation of backfire plan

September 7, 2009 |  2:37 pm

Forest Service officials have canceled the controlled burns originally planned this afternoon and are focusing on squelching a flare-up northeast of Highway 2 in the Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness area.

“The fire is burning good in there so we are having large air drops in that area," said Nathan Judy, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Containment of the 13-day-old Station fire burning in Angeles National Forest reached 56% this morning as thousands of firefighters worked to encircle the historic blaze as it continued to crawl eastward through steep canyons.

Hand crews were working today to cut protective fire breaks in the Pleasant View wilderness on the eastern flank near the Mt. Waterman ski area.

“We’re not out of the woods just yet,” Judy said. “The weather could change and we could be running again.”

The Station fire, which officials say was caused by arson, has destroyed 78 homes. The estimate of acreage consumed remained at 157,220 acres this morning, the largest forest fire on record in Los Angeles County.

Crews are working sporadic hot spots above Little Tujunga near the western flank of the fire.
But for the most part the charred horn of the fire area stretching from La Cañada Flintridge around the San Gabriel Mountains to the Littlerock area in the high desert was under control.

“The whole western portion of the fire is looking real good,” Judy told The Times this morning.

Along the still-uncontrolled eastern edge of the fire, commanders had planned to set backfires about a mile east of Mt. Wilson and cut new fire lines to make a stand in the next few days above the Duarte area.

“We’re hoping to hold it within the wilderness area, which isn’t a whole lot more, mileage-wise,” Judy said.
A firefighter who fell while cutting fire breaks overnight had to be airlifted out of the mountains. The extent of the firefighter’s injuries wasn’t immediately available.

“Our crews working that wilderness area are in real steep, rugged terrain,” Judy said. "One misstep and you’re going down the hillside.”

Two firefighters have been killed, and authorities are treating the probe into the fire’s origins as a homicide investigation. Ten firefighters have been injured.

-- Jason Felch at Hansen Dam and Rich Connell in Los Angeles

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Photos: Wildfires | 360° view | High-res | Shots mapped Interactive map: The Station fire
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