By Mary O’KEEFE
The Government Accountability Office is continuing its investigation into the Station Fire.
In the fall of 2010, the GAO accepted the request by several California senators and representatives, including Congressman Adam Schiff, to investigate the Station Fire from its inception on Aug. 26, 2009 to its containment on Oct. 16.
In May, Schiff led a meeting that included members of the U.S. Forest Service and GAO. They heard from residents affected by the Station Fire, many who were critical of the initial handling of the blaze by U.S. Forest Service.
Most left the meeting disappointed in the progress that had been made since a previous meeting nine months prior. At those August 2010 panel discussions, the forest service was asked to supply answers to several procedural issues including how and when air support was requested. The forest service did not have the requested information for May’s meeting.
GAO representative Stephen Gaty, assistant director, GAO Natural Resources and Environmental Team, invited residents to share their concerns and any information on the Station Fire.
“After the [May] meeting many have contacted the team and spoken to them,” said Anu Mittal, GAO spokeswoman. “[Members of GAO] have spent quite a bit of time [collecting individual stories].”
The GAO expects to complete the investigation and have a report by December of this year.
The Station Fire began in the afternoon of Aug. 26. The cause has been determined as arson; Los Angeles County Sheriff detectives are investigating the incident. Two Los Angeles County firefighters lost their lives while fighting the fire. The blaze burned over 250 square miles of the San Gabriel Mountains. The GAO still welcomes any information from residents concerning the Station Fire. To contact the office, call Ulana Bihun in the Colorado office at (303) 572-7310 or Jonathan Dent in the Seattle office (206) 287-4879.
Congressman Schiff is also receiving calls and emails from those with Station Fire concerns. Contact the congressman at his Pasadena office (626) 304-2727 or his Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-4176.
To email Congressman Adam Schiff, visit the website at http://schiff.house.gov and click on Contact Me.