Questions Raised About LAFD’s Initial Response To Massive La Tuna Fire Over Labor Day Weekend

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Could the La Tuna Fire have been knocked down at a few acres?

According to information over the Los Angeles City Fire Department scanner and information posted on its Twitter account, firefighters initally thought the La Tuna Fire was out before it could do any real damage.

But apparently, that was not the case. The fire charred nearly 7,200 acres, destroyed five houses and turned out to be the biggest fire ever in the city of Los Angeles.

Flames broke out around 1:30 p.m. Friday at the start of the Labor Day weekend. The following is the LAFD’s first tweet about the blaze.

“1 acre of medium brush burning along the side of the 210 FY,” the tweet said.

Then at 1:51, another tweet said the “Bulk of the fire extinguished, therefore stopping forward progress. No structures threatened Firefighters working to get a hand line fully around the fire.”

At that time, Deputy Chief Tim Ernst said fire crews were still at the scene.

“We’re not aware of any crews being turned around during the initial phases of the fire. It would not be unusual for the incident commander to stop some of the outside agencies responding. We thought we had enough resources to handle the incident,” Ernst said.

Minutes after firefighters thought the fire was under control quickly shifted to a situation that was out of control. Firefighters blamed sudden winds.

The tweet at 2 p.m. said: “Shift in fire behavior and growing wind event caused growth of fire and significant additional resources ordered. Potential for fire estimated at 300 acres, 2000 if jumps across the 210 freeway.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had nothing but praises for the LAFD.

“To have one of the largest fires, the largest in 50 years, without a single fatality is a miracle,” the mayor said.” Within 10 minutes, we had 35 additional engines there from the city of Los Angeles, Glendale and Burbank. So things came very quickly.”

By 2:30 p.m., two Super Scoopers were already over the fire.

“I would say this is as close to textbook as you could be,” Ernst explained.

The fire burned 7,194 acres and destroyed five houses. But Ernst quickly pointed out that firefighters also saved 1,400 homes, which had flames reaching within 200 feet of the properties. And yet, none was lost.

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