While touring areas below the Station fire in the Los Angeles area that were affected by mud and debris flows, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would appoint a blue ribbon commission to look into the accusations by at least two politicians that mismanagement of the fire by the U.S. Forest Service caused the fire to become very large, which later resulted in mud slides.
In December, the Los Angeles Times reported that there were significant delays in getting aircraft assigned to the fire on the morning of the second day. There was criticism that more aggressive tactics that day may have kept the fire from turning into a megafire, eventually burning 160,000 acres, the largest fire in the recorded history of Los Angeles County.
On Sunday, La Canada Flintridge Mayor Laura Olhasso joined Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich in blasting the U. S. Forest Service. Here is an excerpt from an article at myfoxla.com.
The mayor of La Canada Flintridge said the National Forest Service caused this weekend’s disastrous mud flows in her city, by mismanaging last summer’s big brushfire, and should pay to remove thousands of truckloads of muck.
Mayor Laura Olhasso joined Los Angeles County supervisor Mike Antonovich in blaming the 250-square-mile Station fire on U.S. Forest Service decisions not to call in helicopter tankers early in the fire’s spread last August. The mudslides that crushed nine homes Saturday are a direct consequence, they said, of catastrophically-bad firefighting strategies.
“I call on the federal government to take the responsibility to help our residents pay for cleaning up the mud,” Olhasso said at a news conference in a mud-filled Paradise Valley street, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stood next to her. “The federal government must take responsibility for their mud, that is coming out of their hills.”
Olhasso has said U.S. Forest Service officials have compounded the threat to constituents living below the fire-denuded Angeles National Forest by refusing to let city crews onto federal property this winter to clear debris.
Arriving at the scene today, Schwarzenegger promised to “appoint a blue ribbon commission to look into” the local claims.
“It’s important for us to come out, right now, and say `what can we do to help?”‘ Schwarzenegger said. The governor pledged to cut red tape to find disposal sites for thousands of truckloads of debris that must be removed from houses, yards, streets and catch basins.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich blamed the U.S. Forest Service for failing to commit more resources to the Station Fire in its infancy.