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Firefighters continue to contain Station fire

Officials pledge to help residents rebuild their lives

September 02, 2009|By Zain Shauk and Veronica Rocha

FOOTHILLS — Firefighters Wednesday successfully cut off the Station fire’s march toward several foothill communities, lessening the immediate threat to homes and allowing crews to refocus their efforts on other hot spots.

The destructive and deadly Station fire slowed down overnight Tuesday, but still consumed about 13,000 more acres, pushing the total so far to 140,150 acres. The fire remained 22% contained as of Wednesday afternoon.

“It was staggering to watch this fire climb toward homes at 1 a.m. the other night with a line a firefighters ready to do battle,” Assemblyman Anthony Portantino said at Wednesday’s news conference at the Station fire’s interagency command center at Hansen Dam Park.

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The 218-square mile fire had destroyed 62 homes, 27 outbuildings and three commercial properties. Nearly 4,130 firefighters from as far away as Alaska and West Virginia were battling the blaze.

Six people were injured in the blaze and two Los Angeles County firefighters were killed.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation, county Supervisor Michael Antonovich said.

“The area has not experienced these types of fires in over 100 years,” he said.

The next move for local and state officials will be to help residents rebuild their lives, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at the news conference.

He signed an executive order to re-boost the recovery effort, waiving replacement fees for personal documents, such as identification cards and birth certificates. He also sought the assistance of the state Franchise Tax Board to waive late fees on tax extensions due to the fire.

“This will cut through the red tape and free up additional resources, so we could assist in the additional response and recovery efforts,” Schwarzenegger said.

An emergency resolution, which was passed Tuesday, would allow for Section 8 rental vouchers to be available to qualified residents, Antonovich said. The resolution would also direct county public works officials to review watersheds and clear out debris, he said.

The supervisor also called for more “common sense policies for brush clearance and firefighting abilities that safeguard and protect the public and their property.”

More than 100 firefighters spent Tuesday night at Mt. Wilson to protect a historic observatory and an array of telescopes and communication towers for radio, TV and public safety agencies.

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