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Station fire has cost $37 million to fight; officials still assessing toll

September 5, 2009 |  7:43 am

The deadly Station fire has cost more than $37 million to fight, and officials are still assessing the toll to property, wildlife and forest facilities. 

The 154,000-acre blaze was 42% contain and no longer threatening homes. But it continued to burn into the San Gabriel Wilderness. 

Jody Noiron of the U.S. Forest Service said the fire had displaced animals that are thirsty and hungry and may be injured. She said residents should contact the proper authorities if they have wildlife in their yards.

Officials are also beginning to worry about erosion when the rains come. Even with the fire still going, they are clearing out debris basins.

John Tripp, chief deputy for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said that a total of 76 homes had been destroyed in the fire and that 13 had been damaged. 

Officials said 10 firefighters had been taken to a hospital in two separate incidents, in which it appears they had stumbled upon hazardous materials. At one of those sites, health officials detected cyanide and one firefighter remains in the hospital. Officials are still not sure where the cyanide came from.

Two firefighter died in the fire, which officials said was arson.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has said investigators are probing the deaths as homicides. A source told The Times that "material that didn't belong there" has been found at the site suspected to be where the fire started, a twice-scorched slope cordoned off by crime scene tape near Mile Marker 29 along Angeles Crest Highway.

The source would not identify the suspicious substance but said it was found in the brush off the highway, within walking distance of the turnoff at the center of the arson probe.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was an ongoing investigation, said the substance was taken to a lab for testing. The material is not a device, according to the source.

-- Ari B.Bloomekatz