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Did O.C. firefighters learn their lessons from 2007 disaster?

November 21, 2008 |  7:37 am

During the 2007 fires in Orange County, local firefighters came under harsh criticism for for a lack of resources and an inability to get help from other agencies in a timely fashion. It appears the Orange County Fire Authority  did better this time. The O.C. Register reports more firefighters organized more quickly:

Recent changes to the state's mutual aid system, prompted in part by [OCFA Chief Chip] Prather, allowed five times the amount of strike teams to be sent from neighboring counties. Within 90 minutes of the first 911 call, 187 extra engines had joined the fight. Air resources, which had been lacking during last year's Santiago fire and which Prather had blamed for allowing the blaze to rage out of control, were plentiful. Aircraft dropped more than 278,000 gallons of water -- including making drops on two Corona fire engine crews surrounded by flames. The crews escaped with minor injuries. Fixed-wing aircraft blanketed the ground with more than 300,000 gallons of flame retardant. The first out-of-county strike team arrived in less than two hours -- unlike the 26 hours it took the first out-of-county strike team to arrive during the Santiago fire -- and then the worn-out crew had to be rested overnight.

The Register found that the county's reverse 911 system got around to calling fire victims -- hours late.

Here is The Times' Dan Weikel and William Heisel's investigation of shortage during the 2007 fires.

-- Shelby Grad