L A Fires – Day 6

They have nicknamed the ‘Station’ fire, "The Beast!"  It just won’t be stopped.  It is now less than 50 miles from downtown and still moving.
September 1, 2009 |  9:32 am
Increasing humidity and slightly cooling temperatures this morning brought the first signs of hopefulness from firefighters battling the Station fire. "I’m feeling a lot more optimistic today than I did yesterday," said U.S. Forest Service Incident Cmdr. Mike Dietrich. "We made progress last night, not just due to humidity, but good darn firefighting. They’re fighting for every foot."

And though officially the fire is still at 5% containment, Dietrich said officials will reassess that figure today and that he expected it to go up substantially. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.  No additional homes were reported destroyed, but damages are estimated at $13.6 million.

The containment date still stands at Sept. 15.

On Monday, Dietrich characterized the fire as "angry" and "vindictive," but today he compared it to his own children: "cranky and stubborn for no apparent reason." 

About 3,600 personnel remain involved in fighting the fire, and an ongoing concern is getting firefighters enough rest and water. On Friday, one firefighter was hospitalized with renal kidney failure due to dehydration, but he is in better condition now. In order to ensure the firefighters are getting adequate rest, officials have set up a camp in the Santa Clarita area, a closer alternative to the command center at Hansen Dam, Dietrich said.

The massive blaze, which has burned more than 50 structures, killed two firefighters and caused thousands of evacuations, grew by about 15,000 acres over the last 12 hours. That’s a smaller rate of growth than Sunday or Monday, but officials are still on guard.

Protecting a Home

Despite the improved weather, officials said they worried about the possibility of gusty winds and dry lightning.

After a six-day heat wave, forecasters say an onshore flow will return today, dropping temperatures on the fire lines to the low 90s, with some gusty winds at mountain peaks. Humidity is also expected to increase.

In the once-threatened area of Briggs Terrace, firefighters using flares set backfires from the top of the ridge gradually down toward the homes. The burnouts neutralized the danger of the wildfire coming down, said Nathan Judy of the U.S. Forest Service. 

"Everybody in that neighborhood has nothing to worry about," he said."There’s no fuel to burn. We took it away." 

Firefighters cut a break between the homes and the burnout nearest them, but the winds were blowing upslope during the operation anyway, Judy said.

The Station fire, the largest of several in the state, was plowing through dense hillside vegetation along the San Gabriel Mountains, cutting a remarkable swath that extends from Altadena into the high desert.

Despite the fire’s sprawling dimensions, stretching up to 25 miles from east to west and 18 miles from north to south, aggressive ground and aerial assaults managed to confine the blaze to largely undeveloped areas. Losses from the fire rose Monday when officials learned that more than 30 cabins, homes and other structures were destroyed in the remote Big Tujunga Canyon area.

And on the fire’s eastern flank, officials were still hoping a concerted effort to hack away tree limbs, cut fire breaks and lay down fire retardant would spare the Mt. Wilson Observatory and a key complex of communications towers used for over-the-air broadcasting by nearly 50 radio and television stations.

Weary fire crews trading 12-hour shifts had little time Monday to mourn the deaths of two L.A. County firefighters killed Sunday when their truck overturned on a mountain road.

The two firefighters who were killed and their vehicle.  Very tragic…

Capt. Tedmund Hall, 47, and firefighter specialist Arnaldo Quinones, 34, were part of a team of 65 firefighters — mostly jail inmates — trying to defend a camp when flames made a sudden run at their positions, said County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman. An investigation is continuing, but preliminary indications are that Hall and Quinones were trying to reposition a fire truck, which then tumbled 800 feet down a steep slope. Other firefighters suffered minor injuries in a rescue effort, Freeman said.

View from Downtown L A.  That plume is over 6 miles high.

Winds blowing two ways at once!

LOVE this little place!!

Tough work!

At Mt. Wilson, the intensity and unpredictability of the blaze, which continued shifting directions, forced fire crews to pull back from the mountaintop on Monday. With the blaze burning on both sides of the only access road to the complex, firefighters could become trapped if the inferno suddenly raced up the canyon walls.

The drama of families having to flee their homes — or risking all to try to defend their property — played out repeatedly as searing heat and a generation of accumulated hillside growth fed the fires.

There was confusion and concern when six people refused to evacuate from Gold Canyon near Little Tujunga, officials said. Conflicting reports through the day said the group wanted to stay, or be rescued, after firefighters lighted backfires to battle the blaze in the area. Sheriff’s deputies returned to the area three times, officials said, but it appeared the group was not leaving.

As billows of white and black smoke danced ominously close in the Sunland-Tujunga area, Chuck Horn ushered his family and his two prized classic automobiles away from his home.

"We took pictures, tax returns, insurance forms, the dog, the chicken, and that’s it," Horn, 61, a retired L.A. County public works employee, said as he prepared to drive away in his baby blue 1931 Plymouth coupe. Next, he planned to move a black 1911 Buick Model 33.

Bambi???  Poor thing… so confused!

Apartment complex

Mount Wilson

Sunset?  No!  2:00 PM

Was a cabin

Resident trying to protect his home.

Clearing brush


Here are the photos of the ‘Super Scooper’ DC-10 I promised.

 *  Now they are talking about bringing in a specially equipped 747 to make water drops.  They promise to ‘Make It Rain’!!

  *  I learned yesterday that fires this large create their own weather!

  *  The fire line on the West is now 93 miles long and in the North it’s around 60 miles long. 

   *   Numerous fighterfighters have been taken to hospitals due to heat stroke, renal failure and dehydration.

   *   Containment went from 5% yesterday to 45% this morning and now it’s back to 5%.

   *   The fires are now chewing along in ALL directions.

    *   You can actually HEAR Big fires, especially when the flames reach 80 feet.

     *   The firefighters wear 70lbs of equipment including their own hoses……. For 12 hours at a time!

OH!!!!  Watching that 747 in action!  Finally!!!!  It’s HUGE and looks even bigger flying tree-high!!  Pics tomorrow.

Update:  They just brought in another aircraft!  It’s a ‘MARS’ made by Martin Aircraft Co. (aka Flying Boat since it has no wheels).  It picks up it’s water load directly from a local lake by swooping down on it.  It has a 200 foot wing span and holds 72,000 gallons (60,000 water/12,000 Foam) and has 12 ‘belly doors’ .  It’s flying over Mount Wilson. 

Remember when I said that fires this large make their own weather?  We, now there are dry lightening strikes… NOT GOOD!  That plane just made it’s drop!  Unbeleivable the amount of water.


Roadwork Update:

I hope that after 2 1/2 months, they are finally laying down asphalt!  I tried to drive today to pick up some groceries, gas up my car and buy a lottery ticket but there was a problem.  Both ends of our street are blocked off, along with the neighboring streets and the street they have been ‘working’ on.  No way out and no way in.  The 7-Eleven on the corner might as well close for the day.  Hopefully we will finally have our streets back tomorrow.

Well, I’ll be here watching updates and news websites.  I hope I have been providing more info than the Networks have.  Enjoy your evening!



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4 Responses to L A Fires – Day 6

  1. Jaysey says:

    Unbelievable! That MARS sounds pretty cool–any pics of that thing in action?Have a good night!

  2. john says:

    Darn smoke …it is all the ways out here, it reminds me of the pollution of the 60’s, a light haze in the air.Be glad the cap and trade isn’t in place or california would be owned by Al Gore and his cronies. All the carbon ya’ll are putting in the air. Calofornia is going broke and then the carbon tax, The state would owe its soul to the company store.Take care and hope the best for ya.

  3. CAROL says:

    HECK YEAH BOB! I learn more here than the news has coverage here for 10 minutes. You really dont know what is going on there because they dont cover it on the national news reg networks enough. Last night NBC did and that was good. No mention of what OBAMA thinks but .. BUDDY if it were in CHICAGO (his old town) he would be all over it. Pictures are spectacular! What would scare me is that big 747 flying so low Been on one know how big they are. Stay well try not to breathe too much smoke!!!

  4. Carolyn says:

    Oh that’s just awful. we have really bad fires here in Az to. they sure cause a lot of danger for everyone. we Had a fire come five miles from our city a few year ago and so hard to breath. I have problems breathing any kind of fumes or cigarette smoke. I Walked on the sidewalks by our highway the gas from car trucks and etc, I cant walk very far.It hard to hold my breath .I will probably have to get something to put over my mouth and nose. even if there’s not a smell I have trouble breathing.Those pictures were awesome but so sad I will talk to you later Bob. take care and have a good afternoon hugs Carolyn

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