Sparks Fly Between Firefighting Agencies

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The Los Angeles County Fire Department and U.S. Forest Service don’t agree on the strategies used to fight the massive Station Fire.

The Forest Service, which had primary control over the firefighting effort, responded curtly late Wednesday to criticism issued earlier by L.A. County Fire officials in a 41-page report that recommends USFS policy be changed to allow aerial attacks on fires at night, among other things.

The Forest Service said the county did not voice its concerns during the federal agency's recent Station Fire internal review, which included input from County Fire and Cal Fire officials. The USFS review determined that the USFS used ``best professional practices'' in responding to the fire, which broke out Aug. 26.

``L.A. County did not raise these issues during our review," the Forest Service said in Wednesday's statement, which was reported by the Los Angeles Times. ``We stand by our report.''

The 41-page Los Angeles County Fire Department document titled ``Station Fire Review, Observations and Recommendations,'' concludes with pointed advice for the U.S. Forest and its oversight agency, the Department of Agriculture. The document was released Tuesday.

The recommendations await county Board of Supervisors action before they will be transmitted to the Secretary of Agriculture and appropriate members of Congress, according to a memo from County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman.

The Station Fire, believed set by an arsonist, burned more than 250 square miles of the Angeles National Forest, cost nearly $90 million to fight; destroyed 89 residences, 26 commercial properties and 94 outbuildings; and contributed to the deaths of two firefighters.

A total of $150,000 has been offered by the county and the state leading to an arrest and conviction.

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