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Forest Service has aircraft set to start firefighting at night

The U.S. Forest Service, in a major policy change prompted by the devastating 2009 Station fire, has a helicopter and fixed-wing plane ready to begin night operations to battle wildfires, federal lawmakers told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

Specially trained crews in a water-dropping helicopter and air-traffic control plane are expected to be ready to fight fires this week across the Los Angeles area, said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

The Forest Service had banned nighttime aerial firefighting operations in the 1970s for safety and cost reasons, according to federal officials. But the agency decided to scrap that policy after reports by The Times and subsequent congressional inquiries into the tactics and strategies used by the Forest Service during the Station fire, the largest in Los Angeles County history. Two firefighters died in the blaze.

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-- Robert J. Lopez, Los Angeles Times


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