Here’s what the New York Times reported back in 1993, about the Altadena and Kinneloa fires:
The Altadena fire, which still raged today on the hillsides but no longer threatened houses, has been an example of this new complex challenge, said Clark Pearson, an inspector with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
On Wednesday, fire destroyed or damaged 115 homes and forced the evacuation of 500 others. The blaze injured 29 firefighters and caused at least $15 million in damage as it swept through 5,500 acres along the northern edges of Altadena and Pasadena.
A row of blackened walls and chimneys was all that was left today of some of the exclusive homes in the San Gabriel Mountains.
The police arrested a transient, Andres Huang, 39, who they say started the blaze after the nighttime campfire he built on a hillside on the edge of Angeles National Forest jumped out of control.
Mr. Huang was scheduled to be arraigned on Friday on a charge of setting an unlawful fire. He was not accused of arson; at least two of the dozen other fires that have swept Southern California in the last two days have been attributed to arson. About 90 percent of the 12,000 large and small wildfires in California each year are caused by people rather than by other sources, like lightning.
The first report of the Altadena fire came at 3:49 A.M. on Wednesday, and the heavy response reflected the lessons firefighters have learned in recent years in responding to wildfires in urban areas.
Five engines, four hand crews, two helicopters and a bulldozer were called in, Inspector Pearson said. In most cases, the bulk of the crew would immediately withdraw when the fire was determined to be minor.
At first, the crew was overwhelmed. The fire raced down scrub-filled Eaton Canyon, attacking a number of homes at the northwest edge of Pasadena.
As its threat grew, a full-fledged mobilization was put into effect.
More than 140 fire engines from around the state mobilized on the streets to await the unpredictable spread of the fire from the brush-covered canyons and hillsides. Air Attack on Blaze
Nearby a half-dozen crews of 15 or so men and women, including prison inmates, moved onto the hillsides with picks and shovels to cut firebreaks. Most of the injuries to firefighters were among these crews, Inspector Pearson said, though none of the injuries were serious.