The hours that officials spent during a congressional hearing Tuesday questioning the tactical response to the massive Station fire did little to satiate long-simmering frustration among residents who lost their homes in the blaze.
Local congressional representatives Tuesday grilled U.S. Forest Service officials about their response to the Station fire, including an apparent communication breakdown that delayed aerial water drops at a critical juncture during the first 24 hours of the firefight.
Fire officials have maintained they did everything possible to contain the blaze, and on Tuesday pointed to another obstacle standing in the way of aerial tactics: steep terrain coupled with power lines. But residents at the hearing said the hours of testimony amounted to yet another example of officials trying to shirk responsibility.
“I think it is interesting that the Forest Service’s story has changed yet again,” said Bert Voorhees, whose Vogel Flats home was destroyed as the fire roared through Big Tujunga Canyon on Aug. 29, 2009. “Initially it was [that] there were no tankers available, and then there were no pilots available to fly them, and on and on and on. Now there is this new twist. Suddenly, the real problem area of the fire was so compromised with electric lines that the tankers wouldn’t have done any good.”