Local lawmakers are still digging into the reason why last year’s Station Fire blew out of control so quickly. Two firefighters died in the fire. It destroyed more than 200 buildings – and burned 250 square miles of forest in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Burbank congressman Adam Schiff chaired a hearing in Pasadena on what happened in the first hours of the Station Fire.
Much of the testimony focused on fixing what some described as the outdated and archaic U.S. Forest Service. Some at the hearing, including a retired Forest Service worker, said the agency needs supervisors that are better trained.
Casey Judd agrees with that assessment. He’s with the association that represents Forest Service workers.
Judd testified that he believes the agency needs more and better-trained supervisors. “The Forest Service will not voluntarily change the status quo," said Judd. "They have repeatedly defied Congress’s attempts to get the agency to acknowledge these problems. They’ve had decades to make the necessary changes to provide the American taxpayer with the most effective and efficient wildfire response, but have failed to do so."
The U.S. Agriculture Department oversees the Forest Service. An Agriculture Department internal review found budget concerns may have slowed the Forest Service from asking for local air support on the first day of the Station Fire. Forest Service authorities deny that cost concerns held them back from asking for help to fight the wildfire.