Probe of Allegations of Toxic Fire Begins

The Los Angeles city attorney's office is investigating charges that several Department of Water and Power workers allegedly created a cloud of hazardous smoke by burning paint cans and solvents in a furnace at the Scattergood Power Plant near El Segundo.

The city attorney's office declined to name the employees, but City Councilwoman Gloria Molina reported last week that the supervisor who allegedly ordered the burning is an environmental officer who "was supposed to be training others about environmental law."

The incident became public recently when the Department of Water and Power asked the City Council to hire a private attorney to represent the Scattergood employees in the criminal investigation.

But council members said they are opposed to hiring a $200-an-hour private attorney to represent the workers and sent the proposal back to committee.

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