Study reaches inconclusive conclusions about Forest Service's handling of Station Fire

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Mushrooming clouds rose to sky as the deadly Station Fire gradually marched west towards the communities of Sunland and Tujanga on August 31, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

Federal authorities released their report Friday on the role of the U.S. Forest Service in the 2009 Station Fire. Critics say the lack of helicopter support from the federal agency allowed the fire to get out of control.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office looked at whether dozens of homes in Big Tujunga Canyon could have been saved had the Forest Service used water dropping aircraft on the first night of the fire.

The report notes conflicting stories about decision-making, and concludes it can’t be determined whether different command decisions would have controlled the “extreme fire behavior” sooner. Two firefighters died and nearly 90 homes were destroyed in the blaze.

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank is urging the Forest Service to finish its risk assessment of nighttime firefighting helicopters. He says doubling up on the crews of water dropping planes would make them available from sunrise to sunset.

Schiff also is asking how the Forest Service and L.A. County plan to protect the antennas on Mt. Wilson should a fire once again threaten the communications towers.

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