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A year after Station fire, furor over the firefight continues

August 29, 2010 |  6:52 pm

Ann Benriter stepped gingerly around bits of charred debris and twisted metal that littered the site where her house once stood in the Vogel Flats community in Big Tujunga Canyon. Off to one side were the remnants of two motorcycles, the tires and seats burned away.

Her husband, John, hasn't been able to bring himself to remove them.

"I don't care what anyone says, they had no intention of saving us," Benriter said. "All they did was save the ranger station. Every one of these water tanks, every pool, was all full of water. They never did anything."

One year ago, the Station fire started along Angeles Crest Highway, two miles north of La Cañada Flintridge. It grew into the biggest fire in the history of Los Angeles County, burning through 160,000 acres, destroying more than 80 homes and killing two firefighters before being contained on Oct. 16.

But while the San Gabriel Mountains are showing preliminary signs of recovery — baby greens can be seen on many of the previously ash-gray slopes — the furor surrounding how the firefight was managed by the U.S. Forest Service shows no sign of abating.

For some residents who lost their homes and face a long and complicated rebuilding process, there is a deep sense of betrayal. And among county, state and federal representatives, there is frustration and concern about a lack of transparency and reform.

"It has been a year and still no reform," said Tony Bell, spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich. "We are smack dab in the middle of fire season again, and still no reform."

Read the full story in the La Cañada Valley Sun.

-- Megan O'Neill, Times Community News

Photo: Trent Sanders holds a photo of his home, on Aug. 22, 2010, at the site where the structure was destroyed in the Station fire. Credit: Roger Wilson / Valley Sun