The LA Times has the story about how three weeks before the 160,000-acre Station fire near Los Angeles, the Regional Forester for the U. S. Forest Service sent a memo to the forest supervisors in California ordering them to minimize the use of state and local firefighting resources as a cost reduction measure. Federal firefighters make far less money than their state and local brethren.
Here is an excerpt from the LA Times article:
An internal memorandum obtained by The Times instructed forest supervisors in the Pacific Southwest region to replace non-federal crews “as appropriate” and with the service’s own personnel and equipment “as quickly as possible.”
Forest Service officials have denied that cost concerns led them to deploy fewer ground crews and helicopters from Los Angeles County on the second morning of the Station fire.
Today, the No. 2 official in the Forest Service, Associate Chief Hank Kashdan, said the Aug. 5 memo should have had “nothing to do with our approach to suppressing a large fire, or a fire that’s going at any present time.”
Kashdan nevertheless said a Forest Service investigation of the attack on the Station blaze would examine whether budget worries had influenced the judgment of those deploying firefighters and equipment.
“It’s fair to everybody to let that investigation run its course and see what the review finds,” he said.