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Investigators say cost concerns slowed Calif. fire response

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Federal investigators say concerns over firefighting costs slowed the U.S. Forest Service's initial response to a Southern California wildfire that killed two firefighters and destroyed 89 homes.

A review by the Agriculture Department, which runs the Forest Service, cites a letter before last year's Station Fire instructing managers to limit requests for crews, aircraft and equipment from state and local agencies.

Forest Service officials have insisted cost concerns never impeded the response to the 250-square-mile fire.

The Los Angeles Times says the review shows the agency decided to concentrate on protecting homes and the communications towers and observatory on Mount Wilson, rather than staging a direct assault on the backcountry front of the fire.

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