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U.S. Forest Service officials deny cost concerns hampered Station fire response [Updated]

October 12, 2010 | 12:37 pm


Under intense questioning by Los Angeles-area House members, U.S. Forest Service officials Tuesday denied that cost concerns hampered their response to last year's devastating Station fire.

Station-fire2 But a Forest Service commander overseeing the firefight said a "window of opportunity" closed when aircraft arrived late over the flames on the crucial second day of the battle.

The congressional panel hearing looking into the response to fire drew a standing-room-only crowd to a federal building in Pasadena.

Questions focused on whether budget worries slowed the deployment of reinforcements, including air tankers, early in the effort to fight the fire, which became the largest in L.A. County history.

Led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the panel is continuing to hear testimony Tuesday afternoon.

[Updated at 1:23 p.m.: Will Spyrison, the Forest Service incident commander during the initial attack on the blaze, said he made several requests for air tankers to hit the fire at 7 a.m. on the second day of the fight in hopes of dousing nearby ridges before the sun heated them. He said it was "hard to say" if the tankers would have made a pivotal difference, but that he ordered them with a "sense of urgency." Spyrison said he was never told that the tankers would not begin arriving until 9 a.m., after the fire started to rage out of control.]

-- Paul Pringle in Pasadena

Upper photo: Forest Service officials and others speak as a congressional panel investigates the circumstances surrounding the Station fire. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: Jody Noiron, a supervisor with Angeles National Forest, speaks to the congressional panel. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times