[LA FEATURE]California Wildfires

LA FEATURE

Coverage of brush fires across the state

Fire Crews Expect Full Containment of Station Fire by Tuesday

Containment of the fire was listed at 77 Friday

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Station Fire continues to blacken forests and race up rugged canyons along its eastern front deep in the Angeles National Forest on September 4, 2009 northeast of Pasadena, California.

    Fire crews continued to gain ground on the 17 day-old Station Fire. Containment of the 250 square-mile conflagration was listed at 77 percent friday, with full containment projected by 6 p.m. Tuesday according to the U.S. Forrest Service. Crews continue to extend their containment lines and guard against flare-ups.

    Since the arson fire broke out near a Forest Service ranger station Aug. 26, it has scorched 160,357 acres, making it the largest fire in Los Angeles County history.

    Roughly 3,500 firefighters remain assigned to the blaze, including crews from California, Nevada, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming, according to fire officials.

    To date, the fire has cost nearly $78 million to fight, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Tom DeBellis said. The financial toll is expected to rise.

    Firefighters are focusing on the eastern side of the San Gabriel Wilderness Area, where the blaze had been described as uncontrolled as recently as Wednesday. But crews made significant progress Thursday in establishing containment lines around the area, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the lead agency in the struggle against the blaze.

    Improved wind conditions also allowed firefighters to successfully carry out an overnight burn operation Thursday along a stretch from Mount Wilson to Cogswell Reservoir, according to fire commanders.

    The controlled burn removed what had been regarded as a significant threat to the Mount Wilson Observatory and nearby broadcast communications towers.

    The completion of the burn out operation “will greatly enhance containment of the fire and reduce the threat to Mount Wilson,” according to a Forest Service statement.

    Authorities said the Station Fire was sparked by an arsonist near a Forest Service ranger station off Angeles Crest Highway just north of La Canada Flintridge. The state has offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday authorized a $50,000 reward.

    The fire claimed the lives of two firefighters whose truck plunged off a mountain road. It also caused injuries to 13 firefighters and one support worker and destroyed 78 homes, mostly cabins, as well as two commercial properties and 86 outbuildings.

    A public memorial at Dodger Stadium will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday for the two Los Angeles County firefighters killed in the blaze: Capt. Tedmund “Ted” Hall, 47, of San Bernardino County, and firefighter Specialist Arnaldo “Arnie” Quinones, 35, of Palmdale.

    Sheriff's homicide investigators are asking anyone with information on the origin of the Station Fire to call (323) 890-5500.