Arson and homicide

Officials determined Thursday that the 140,000-acre Station Fire was intentionally set by an arsonist.

From today’s story:

Investigators said today the Station Fire, the largest fire ever in Los Angeles County history, has been ruled arson.
At an evening briefing, officials said they made the determination after a forensic examination of the origin of the fire.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department homicide bureau has initiated a homicide investigation, officials said.


Homicide was called because two firefighters died in the blaze.

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Sierra Madre issues #station fire closure information

The Sierra Madre Fire Department and City Officials are closely monitoring the Station Fire. At this time, there is no imminent danger to Sierra Madre residents.  

The City of Sierra Madre has begun preparations in case the Station Fire enters Sierra Madre. At this time the Station Fire continues to be a slow moving fire and if the fire continues moving to Sierra Madre, officials do not expect it to enter the City for at least five days. This prediction is contingent on if the current weather conditions continue.  

Today, fire officials began pre-treating the northern border of Sierra Madre by sending handcrews to work behind the northern-most properties in Sierra Madre creating a small fire break. This fire break is expected to extend from Altadena to Azusa.  

Residents north of Carter Avenue traveling east to Mira Monte Avenue and across Alegria Avenue to Grandview Avenue are ask to begin their emergency preparations in case the City has to evacuate residents. Residents are reminded to be “Ready for 7″ with 7 days worth of food, clothing, medicine, pet food and supplies should they have to leave their homes. If the City evacuates residents, an evacuation center will be set up at the Community Recreation Center at 611 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. Crated pets will be allowed.  

As the fire continues to burn closer to Sierra Madre, wild animals will be leaving the forest and entering the City. Public Safety Officials warn residents to be cautious and leave them alone and to please not feed the wild animals. Residents may want to take caution and keep small children and pets indoors.  

In compliance with an order from the US Forest Service and the LA County Sheriff Department, the City is closing until further notice Bailey Canyon, Mt. Wilson Trail and the road up to Chantry Flats. 

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Azusa #station fire meeting scheduled

From Martin Quiroz at Azusa City Hall:


We have been requested by P. Michael Freeman, L.A. County Fire Chief, to assist them in hosting a community meeting on the Station Fire.  The Fire is heading back eastward toward the Foothill Communities including Azusa, Duarte, and Bradbury.  This meeting is to inform residents and officials so we can prepare.

The meeting will be on Friday, Sept. 4, at 7:00 p.m. at the Azusa Senior Center.
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Tuesday’s column #station fire

Smoke plumes billow miles into the summer sky.

The noontime air Monday feels hot, dusty and dry.

On a patch of ground surrounding the somewhat remote Hansen Dam in Lake View Terrace, as many as 5,000 firefighters, police officers and a host of support staff have gathered to plan their attack on the 105,000-acre Station Fire.

Although they lost two colleagues in the battle Sunday, there is no time for firefighters to mourn the deaths of Arnaldo “Arnie” Quinones nor Tedmund “Ted” Hall.

The two died battling the blaze near Mt. Gleason. Officials believe Hall’s truck flipped over on a narrow fire road as he and Quinones attempted to flee a wall of flame that ultimately overran them.

In a crisp one-page memo, Shelly Cook, an analyst with the National Forest Service, provided details of the Station Fire’s hellish actions Sunday afternoon.

“Fire behavior was extreme, with rapid rates of spread and stupendous flame lengths,” Cook wrote.

The briefing goes on to describe the fire that spewed burning embers a mile ahead of its path; spread at

3 mph in most directions; had flame lengths of 30 to 150 feet; and continued to chew up brush dry enough to have a 90 percent probability of ignition.

The briefing ends with a quote from writer Louis L’amour: “Victory is not won in miles, but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later win a little more.”

A retired Los Angeles County battalion commander speaking to KFI radio’s Bill Handel on Monday afternoon summed up the feelings of firefighters coping with the loss of their colleagues, while still battling the blaze.

“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “The guys are going to be down. This is a dangerous, unpredictable fire. These two guys paid the big price.”

There are times when the life of a fireman seems like a life of ease. There are endless card games. Many lose count of hours they’ve spent perusing the Internet, or lifting weights, or just kicking back in a chair behind the station with a tasty stogie.

But, there are also those times at

3 a.m. when an elderly woman is suffering a stroke or seizure, those calls at midday when a baby falls into a swimming pool and those Friday nights mopping up after a traffic accident has claimed the life of a teenager.

Sometimes the elderly woman is the same age as their mom, the baby just like their own newborn, or the teen like the daughter they’ve just sent packing off to college.

Then there are those long summer nights out in the middle of a hot, dusty wasteland spent protecting the homes of people who can’t fight off 80-foot flames with a garden hose.

Looking out over the Hansen Dam parking lot at the pup tents, the neatly parked fire engines, the trucks hauling food and supplies, it dawned on me that the scene looked like something from those Matthew Brady Civil War photographs of exhausted, battle-worn soldiers back from the front lines.

Then I realized that Hall and Quinones were modern soldiers who gave their lives to protect all of us.

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InciWeb Station Fire update — evacuations, road closures, total acres


Incident Overview

A view of the fire from the Mt. Wislon station cam

Image options: [ Enlarge ] [ Full Size ]

Station Fire Information

August 31, 2009 9:00 a.m.

Fire Status

Fire Name: Station

Geographic Location: Highway 2 North of La Canada – Flintridge, CA

Acres Burned: 85,760

Start Date: August 26, 2009

Time: 3:20 p.m.

Percent Contained: 5%

Estimated Containment Date: 9/15/09

Cause: Under Investigation

Injuries: 3

Threatened:12,000

Commercial Buildings Threatened: 500

Structures Destroyed: 18

Resourses

Cooperators: Forest Service (Lead Agency) with support from Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Sherriffs Department, California State Highway Patrol, Cal Trans, Los Angeles City Fire Department

Approximate Personnel Assigned: 2,575

Helitankers 7

Helicopters 6

Air Tanker 8 (3 additional available as needed)

Engines 290

Hand Crews 54

Dozers 52

Summary: The Station Fire continues to burn within the Angeles National Forest and near surrounding foothill communities of La Canada-Flintridge, La Crescenta, Acton, Soledad Canyon, Pasadena and Glendale. The goals of the firefighters are to keep the fire west of Highway 39 and Angeles Crest Highway, east of Interstate 5, south of Highway 14, Pearblossom Highway, and Highway 138, and north of the foothill communities and the Angeles National Forest Boundary. Steep terrain, decadent old growth brush and hot dry weather are factors that drive fire activity. Firefighters are working to build fireline and protect structures within areas affected by the fire.

Evacuations:

North Side Mandatory

Chantry Flats: evacuations of the Chantry Flats area effective as of 10:00 am

Acton Area: There has been a mandatory evacuation of Soledad Canyon Rd. between Agua Dulce Canyon Rd. and Crown Valley Rd. There is a mandatory evacuation of the area bounded by Soledad Canyon Rd, Aliso Canyon Rd. and Angeles Forest Highway.

National Forest: Soledad Canyon Rd./Bootlegger Canyon Rd. Area AND Little Rock Recreation Area Mount Emma Rd. and Cheseboro Rd.

South Side Mandatory

National Forest: There has been mandatory evacuation of the area along Big Tujunga Canyon Rd. from Mount Gleason to Angeles Forest Highway.

There has been a mandatory evacuation along Little Tujunga Canyon Rd. north of the Little Tujunga Ranger Station and Gold Creek.

La Crescenta: Vicinity of Rosemont, La Crescenta, and Ramsdale AND north of Rockedell, Pineridge, Mountain Pine, and Markridge Rd.

La Canada Flintridge: There has been a mandatory evacuation of all streets east of Ocean View Blvd. and north of Los Amigos St. In addition, all streets north of Jessen Drive and Palm Drive have been evacuated as well. There has been a mandatory evacuation of all streets located west of Briggs Ave. and east of Pennsylvania Ave., in between Harmony Pl. and the foothills. There has been a mandatory evacuation of all streets north of Rockdell St. between Briggs Av. And Pine Glenn Rd.

Altadena: There has been a mandatory evacuation of all streets north of Loma Alta Dr., located between Lincoln Ave. and Lake Ave. In addition, all streets located in “The Meadows” have been evacuated as well. “The Meadows” consists of all streets located above Loma Alta Dr. and west of Lincoln Ave. to Aralia Rd.

Road Closures:

Red Rover Mine Rd. @ SR-14

Soledad Canyon Rd. @ Crown Valley Rd.

Escondido Rd.@ SR-14

Soledad Canyon Rd. @ SR-14 (exit only)

Agual Dulce Canyon Rd. @ SR-14

Placerita @ Sand Canyon Rd.

Big Pines @ SR-2

Aliso Canyon @ Soledad Canyon Rd.

Angeles Forest Highway @ Mt. Emma Rd.

Red Rover Mine Rd.@ Escondido Rd.

Aliso Canyon @ Ave Y-8

Little Tujunga @ Ranger Station

Open to Residents Only:

Effective (time)

Lake Blvd. to JPL and south of Cheyney Tr.

Evacuation Shelters: Located at La Canada High School; La Crescenta Valley High School and Golden Valley High School, Marie Kerr Park, Verdugo High School. Animal Shelters are located at Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, as well as the following special needs shelter. Pierce College (horses, donkeys and mules ONLY), Lancaster Animal Shelter and Agoura Animal Shelter are both accepting small animals.



Basic Information

Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Under Investigation
Date of Origin Wednesday August 26th, 2009 approx 03:30 PM
Location Los Angeles River Ranger District / Angeles National Forest
Incident Commander Michael Dietrich

Current Situation

Total Personnel 2,575
Size 85,760 acres
Percent Contained 5%
Estimated Containment Date Tuesday September 08th, 2009 approx 06:00 PM
Fuels Involved

Very heavy fuels of ceanothus, chamise, scrub oak and manzanita across the entire fire area, 15 to 20 feet in height with Big Cone Douglas Fir in the drainage bottoms. Fuels have not experienced any significant large fire activity in the past 40 years.

Fire Behavior

Fire behavior was extremely active with rapid rates of spread and flame lenghts up to 80 feet. All thresholds in place for determination of active fire behavior have been exceeded. Hot and dry with afternoon winds, especially over the upper slopes.

Significant Events

Mandatory Evacuations are in effect in many locations. The fire is threatening the Mount Lukens Communications Site, Mount Wilson Communications Facilities and Observatory and may reach these locations this burning period. Unified Command is in place.

Outlook

Planned Actions

Prepare and protect structures when and where necessary. Air operations will be heavy on the northwest perimeter.

Growth Potential

Extreme. The fire in the Acton area has spread down to the lower slopes adjacent to the road.

Terrain Difficulty

Extremely steep and inaccessible

Remarks

Angeles Crest Highway remains closed and is the primary access route for numerous private residences and the Mount Wilson Communication Facility and Observatory. Multiple evacuation centers have been established. The Red Flag warning will expire at 9:00 p.m. the evening.

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La Canada city update on Station Fire

From the city’s Web site:
(As of August 29, 2009, 1:00 p.m.)
The “Station Fire” started at approximately 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Approximately 7,000 acres have burned; 5% containment; fire is largely fuel driven; currently
no significant winds
Per instruction from County public safety personnel, the City of La Caada Flintridge is
announcing an immediate mandatory evacuation notice for residences on: Ocean View Blvd.
n/o Bristow Dr., including Bristow Dr., Derwood Dr., Manistee Dr., and Highrim Rd.; generally
e/o Palm Dr. at Ravista Ln., n/o Vista Del Valle, and w/o Angeles Crest Highway; Greenridge
Dr., Forest Green Dr., Ridge Ct., and Starlight Crest Dr. (through address 502); Big Briar Way
(off Haskell St.); La Canada Blvd. n/o El Vago St., Donna Maria Ln., Indian Dr., Alta Canyada
Rd. n/o El Vago St., Hacienda Dr., Linda Vista Dr., and Alta Canyada Rd. n/o Linda Vista Dr.
Residents in these areas are asked to assemble their families and leave the area. An
evacuation center is set up at La Caada High School, located at 4463 Oak Grove Dr., where
the Red Cross is ready to receive those coming from the evacuation area. Please heed
directions from Sheriff’s deputies and fire personnel to ensure that all residents are able to
depart in a safe manner.
According to Mr. John Velasco of JPL, the Lab will be closed until at least Sunday evening.
Fire personnel are battling the fire near Alta Canyada; thus far their efforts are holding
Units for structure protection are in place and will remain and be supplemented as necessary
12 helicopters and 6 fixed wing aircraft will be in the air today
All concerned residents should packed and be prepared to leave if a mandatory evacuation
order is issued; La Caada High School is set up and available to shelter evacuees (30 people
have sought shelter); Crescenta Valley and John Muir High Schools are backup locations
If you and your family are evacuated from your residence or business, please check in with
the Red Cross at La Canada High School, even if you will be staying temporarily with family
and friends at another location; this will assist in accounting for community members if
necessary
The Pasadena Humane Society is available at La Canada High School for pet care/shelter
Review your individual preparedness plan and continue to monitor local news and this
website for updates
164 homes have lost electricity in the Country Club area. No timeframe for restoration as
SCE cannot enter this area due to fire danger.
The City will continue to notify residents via its reverse 911 system with critical public safety
information (calls to land lines only)
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Sheriff’s unsure about Evacuation area in Altadena

There is no clear boundaries to the area being evacuated in Altadena. 

Watch commanders at both the Altadena station and Crescenta Valley are not taking phone calls. 
No one has communicated with the HQ Bureau about the boundaries of the area in Altadena under mandatory evacuations. Sheriff’s are enforcing some sort of mandatory evacuation nonetheless. 
Here’s what seems to be happening. Homes north of Loma Alta are under orders to evacuate. The eastern and western boundaries remain unclear, although the La Vina neighborhood at the top of Lincoln Avenue has been evacuated.
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