LA wildfire hits 93% containment

LA wildfire hits 93% containment

17 September 2009

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Close to 900 firefighters today fought the vestiges of the 250-square-mile Station Fire, which was 93 percent contained.

The fire has scorched 160,557 acres in the Angeles National Forest since it was set by an arsonist on Aug. 26. Fire officials expect full containment by 6 p.m. Saturday.

The U.S. Forest Service described both the fire’s current behavior and growth potential as “minimal,” thanks to “high humidity and cooler temperatures.”

Most of the still “uncontrolled fire edge” is in the mountain steeps north of Sierra Madre and Monrovia, according to the Forest Service.

State and county highways within the Angeles National Forest remain closed because of destroyed guard rails, falling boulders, rockslides and hillside erosion, the Forest Service said.

The fire has destroyed 89 residences, 26 commercial properties and 94 outbuildings. The estimated cost of the firefighting effort stands at around $92.6 million. It also claimed the lives of two Los Angeles County firefighters — Capt. Tedmund “Ted” Hall, 47, of San Bernardino County, and firefighter Specialist Arnaldo “Arnie” Quinones, 35, of Palmdale.

Investigators are searching for the arsonist responsible for setting off the blaze and asked anyone with information on its origin to call (323) 890- 5500. The state is offering $100,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction while Los Angeles County has announced a $50,000 reward.

As fire crews approach full containment of the monthlong blaze, officials with the Contractors State License Board warned people in the burn zone to be wary of unlicensed contractors who could take advantage of them.

The board also warned unlicensed contractors they could face prison terms if caught doing jobs for more than $500, the threshold requiring a contractor’s license.

CSLB and Department of Insurance investigators have begun canvassing burn areas, offering help and advice to fire victims.

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