The Los Angeles County Fire Department reached a three-year deal to house teams of prison-inmate firefighters at a juvenile probation camp in the Angeles National Forest, officially ending speculation that they might relocate to Malibu, the county announced Thursday.
The roughly 90 inmate firefighters had been housed at a camp atop Mount Gleason, but it was destroyed last summer by the Station Fire, the largest brush fire in county history. Two county firefighters trying to defend the camp were killed when the vehicle they were in plunged over a cliff.
Some Malibu residents expressed concern last month when they learned that a station in their area was being eyed as a possible new home for the inmate fire crews. One of those residents, actor Joshua Malina, who lives a quarter-mile from the site, told the Los Angeles Times that neighbors had received an anonymous flier with the headline "No Prison in Our Neighborhood."
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Residents also argued that the proposed location in the Rambla Pacifico area of Malibu could only be accessed on one narrow street, creating potential traffic issues from inmates' visiting families.
According to a post on county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's website, the inmate firefighters will now be housed at the county Probation Department's 30-year-old Camp Holston, located in Big Tujunga Canyon east of Sylmar. The inmates were moved to that camp on a temporary basis after the Station Fire.
"This is a long-term arrangement, satisfies the immediate need of the Los Angeles County Fire Department and assures the residents of Los Angeles County that these crews will have an appropriate facility," said county Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman.
The fire crews consist of prison inmates with good behavior records serving time for non-violent crimes, such as burglary, fraud or DUI.