September 2, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service says it's ready to fly by night to fight wildfires.
The agency said Tuesday that the night-flying program announced in August will begin this month.
They'll make a modest start with a single water-dropping helicopter stationed in the Angeles National Forest, where the 2009 Station Fire left two firefighters dead and 89 homes destroyed, drawing complaints from politicians and residents over what they called a slow and inadequate response.
The helicopter is also available for fires in and around the Cleveland, San Bernardino and Los Padres national forests.
Los Angeles County is already using helicopters to make nighttime water drops over wildfires like the 50-square-mile Powerhouse Fire that destroyed six homes last weekend.
Forest Service officials have been reluctant to fly in darkness for safety reasons.