A state of emergency

PROCLAMATION

by the

Governor of the State of California

            WHEREAS on August 26, 2009, fires started in Los Angeles County and continue to burn; and 

            WHEREAS on August 27, 2009, fires stared in Monterey County and continue to burn; and 

            WHEREAS the fires have burned approximately 13,000 acres, and have threatened structures, destroyed homes, and have forced hundreds of people to be evacuated and sent to emergency shelters; and

            WHEREAS the circumstances of these fires, by reason of their magnitude, are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single county, city and county, or city and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat; and

            WHEREAS under the provisions of section 8558(b) of the California Government Code, I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist due to the fires in Los Angeles and Monterey Counties.

            NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the state Constitution and statutes, including the California Emergency Services Act, and in particular, section 8625 of the California Government Code, HEREBY PROCLAIM A STATE OF EMERGENCY to exist within Los Angeles and Monterey Counties.

            IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that all agencies of the state government utilize and employ state personnel, equipment and facilities for the performance of any and all activities consistent with the direction of the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) and the State Emergency Plan, and that CalEMA provide local government assistance under the authority of the California Disaster Assistance Act. 

            I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this proclamation be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given of this proclamation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 28th Day of August 2009.

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Red Flag warning issued in San Gabriel Mountains

Here’s a bulletin from the National Weather Service for Azusa, where a 700 acre wildfire continues to burn above Morris Dam:

AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE OVER SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO WILL
WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD...AND SLIDE OVER SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BY
FRIDAY. ALONG WITH WEAKENING ONSHORE FLOW...THIS WILL BRING A RETURN
TO HOT AND DRY CONDITIONS OVER MOST OF SOUTHWEST CALIFORNIA. THE
WARMEST TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED THURSDAY THROUGH SATURDAY...WHEN
WIDESPREAD TRIPLE DIGIT TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED OVER THE INTERIOR
AND VALLEY SECTIONS OF THE SOUTHLAND. TEMPERATURES UP TO AROUND 106
DEGREES ARE EXPECTED IN THE HOTTEST LOCATIONS. A FEW TEMPERATURE
RECORDS COULD BE BROKEN.

SINCE THE ONSHORE FLOW IS EXPECTED TO BE FAIRLY WEAK WITH THIS
HEAT EVENT...EVEN THE WARMEST INLAND PORTIONS OF THE COASTAL PLAIN
WILL LIKELY SOAR INTO THE 90S. THE BEST RELIEF WILL BE NEAR THE
IMMEDIATE COAST WHERE TEMPERATURES WILL REMAIN IN THE 70S AND 80S.

THE AIR MASS IS EXPECTED TO BE FAIRLY DRY THROUGH THIS WEEK.
ALTHOUGH THIS SHOULD HELP KEEP HEAT INDEX READINGS FROM REACHING
CRITICAL LEVELS...HUMIDITY READINGS WILL FALL INTO SINGLE DIGITS
OVER THE INTERIOR VALLEYS AND MOUNTAINS. THIS WILL BRING HEIGHTENED
FIRE WEATHER CONCERNS...ESPECIALLY TO THE MOUNTAIN AREAS WHERE
LITTLE TO NO OVERNIGHT RECOVERIES ARE EXPECTED. SOME SUB-TROPICAL
MOISTURE MAY RETURN TO SOUTHWEST CALIFORNIA THIS WEEKEND...WHICH
COULD HELP HUMIDITIES RECOVER ABOVE SINGLE DIGITS.

THE LONG DURATION HEAT EVENT COULD POSE HEALTH HAZARDS FOR ANYONE
OUTDOORS...ESPECIALLY FOR THE ELDERLY...SMALL CHILDREN...AND PETS.
IF YOU PLAN ON BEING OUTDOORS...REMEMBER TO REMAIN HYDRATED BY
DRINKING PLENTY OF WATER...WEAR LOOSE-FITTING CLOTHING AND A
HAT...AND REMAIN IN THE SHADE OR INDOORS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN OR PETS IN CARS WITH THE WINDOWS UP OR
CRACKED DURING THE DAY...EVEN FOR A VERY SHORT TIME...AS
TEMPERATURES CAN QUICKLY REACH LETHAL LEVELS.

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Wildfire grows in Azusa Canyon — 10 percent contained

Some reports have listed the Morris Fire at 700 acres this morning. The state’s Inciweb site maintains that the blaze has consumed 275 acres. 

As many as 600 firefighters are on scene. Sheriff’s personnel are conducting voluntary evacuations along East Fork Road as a precaution. Here’s the complete InciWeb update from 11 hours ago:

Incident Overview

Morris Fire started at 4:27 pm and is burning in San Gabriel Canyon near Morris Dam on the Los Angeles River Ranger District.



Basic Information

Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Under Investigation
Date of Origin Tuesday August 25th, 2009 approx 02:27 PM
Location Hwy 39 MM20 and MM21
Incident Commander Loring Buchwald

Current Situation

Total Personnel 600
Size 275 acres
Percent Contained 10%
Fuels Involved

Medium Brush and Chaparral

Outlook

Terrain Difficulty

Steep

Current Weather

Wind Conditions 3 – 5 mph NW
Temperature 74 degrees

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Jury recommends death for arsonist

A jury has recommended the death penalty for Raymond Oyler, the man convicted of intentionally lighting several SoCal wildfires in 2006, including the deadly Esparanza Fire in October, which claimed the lives of five firefighters.

The Associated Press reports:

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RIVERSIDE – A jury recommended the death penalty Wednesday for a
man convicted of murdering five federal firefighters who were overrun by one of several wildfires he ignited in Southern California in 2006.
Jurors took less than a day to decide that Raymond Lee Oyler deserved to die.
Prosecutors cited the horrific pain the fire crew suffered and the terror the auto mechanic’s
fires caused in rural areas of Riverside County.
Outside court, Maria Loutzenhiser, the wife of slain fire Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, thanked jurors and prosecutors “for putting an end to everybody’s misery and giving everybody peace of mind.”
“I’m grateful they put Oyler in jail and that he’s there and he can’t do this anymore,” she
said.
Oyler, 38, was convicted of five counts of first-degree murder, 20 counts of arson and 17 counts of using an incendiary device.
Jurors began penalty phase deliberations Tuesday afternoon.
The jury foreman, who declined to give his name, said the two-month trial was an emotional ordeal but the evidence showed Oyler’s guilt and helped persuade the panel he should get the death penalty.
“There were more tears today than any other day,” he said. “It’s not an easy decision to
make.”
The foreman choked back tears as he recalled some of the testimony from family members. He hugged several of them outside court.
At sentencing, set for April 3, Judge W. Charles Morgan still could give Oyler the punishment the defense had urged jurors to choose: life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Oyler’s daughter echoed his lawyers’ claim that her father never intended to kill anyone.
“That was not in his mind. My dad is not this monster they paint him to be,” 21-year-old Heather Oyler said outside the courtroom.
Prosecutor Michael Hestrin told jurors in closing arguments of the trial’s penalty phase that
Oyler was not a casual arsonist but instead sought the power to end people’s lives.
Oyler was convicted of setting numerous fires in rural areas of Riverside County in 2006.
The fatal blaze, known as the Esperanza Fire, roared to life that October as fierce Santa Ana
winds swept through valleys and mountains about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.
The crew of San Bernardino National Forest Engine 57 was overwhelmed after deploying
to protect an unoccupied house perched at the top of a steep drainage in the San Jacinto
Mountains.
Three firefighters died there and a fourth died soon after at a hospital. The fifth died five
days later, the same day Oyler was arrested.
Prosecutors showed jurors graphic photos of the firefighters: Jason McKay, 27; Jess McLean, 27; Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20; Pablo Cerda, 23, and Loutzenhiser, 43.
Judge Morgan previously ruled Oyler mentally competent after an evaluation by a
psychologist.

*Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

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Little Tujunga noon fire update

Here’s what AP is reporting about the 750 acre fire near Sunland and little Tujunga:

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Firefighters backed by water-dumping helicopters and planes gained ground Sunday on awildfirethat destroyed two homes and forced the evacuation of about 1,200 people in a rugged area 20 miles north of downtown.
Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Ron Haralson said the blaze charred up to 750 acres and also burned a garage, several sheds and three motor homes.
No one was seriously injured. A firefighter and one resident reported minor breathing problems.
Haralson said firefighters are “getting a really good handle” on the blaze that started early. Sunday. But powerful Santa Ana winds are expected to arrive in the evening, and gusts could spread embers igniting brush, grass and chaparral in the area.
About 450 homes were evacuated early Sunday when the blaze moved southeast toward city limits, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Stanton Florea.
“It burned right down to a couple of neighborhoods,” Florea said.
The fire was burning south of the Wildlife Waystation, an animal sanctuary and rehabilitation facility set on 160 acres. The nonprofit agency houses more than 400 animals, including lions, bears and deer. Officials were loading up the animals in case the fire switched direction.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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State of emergency

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The lightning strike-caused wildfire in Big Sur contined to rage Saturday. The governor’s declared a state of emergency and is expected to speak this afternoon regarding the fire crisis in Northern California.

Here’s the inciweb update from Big Sur.

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News from Mt. Baldy fire zone

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As with the last month’s Sierra Madre/Santa Anita/Chantry Flats fire, there are several bloggers watching what’s going on at Mt. Baldy. And today’s apparent flare up 

The Fire, officially dubbed the “Bighorn Wildland Fire”  has burned 310 acres and is about 10 percent contained, according to Inciweb.

From the Blogs:

“Ashes in the sky”

US Forest Service updates from My Murrieta (?)

Still “out of control

 

 

 

 

 

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Map updates

This is from Frank, who is at the scene of the fires:

The evacuated area has been extended west to Michillinda Avenue, north of Grandview Avenue. Previously, the burn area’s western border stopped at Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park.

Also, residents east of Camillo Street, north of Grandview Avenue, may be allowed to return to their homes as early as 2 p.m. today.


View Larger Map

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Fire Update ***16: More links, a photo, latest from AP

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A family at the edge of the flames. Flannigan Family Blog.

More discussion on a micro personal level. Oh that’s going to leave a mark.
A small rant. E rants and raves.
U.S. Government wildfire management site. Geomac.
Photo from AP:
An airplane drops flame retardant on a slope Sunday, April 27, 2008, in Sierra Madre, Calif. Awildfirethat broke out in a popular hiking area blackened the steep slopes of foothills outside Los Angeles and led to evacuation orders for residents of about 550 homes, authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)
AP Story from 8:40 p.m.

SIERRA MADRE, Calif. (AP) _ Firefighters gained ground Sunday against an early seasonwildfirethat slowly chewed its way through dense brush near Los Angeles, forcing more than 1,000 people from homes in the foothills.

About 500 firefighters attacked the 400-acre blaze, aided by two helicopters and water-dropping air tankers, said city of Sierra Madre spokeswoman Elisa Weaver. Residents evacuated at least 550 homes Saturday night and Sunday, but none had burned.

“This is pretty serious,” Weaver said. “Some of these areas have not burned in over 40 years.”

By Sunday evening crews had the fire 30 percent contained, Sierra Madre spokesman James Carlson said. Light winds and rising humidity were aiding firefighters, who hoped to have the blaze fully contained within 4-7 days, Carlson said.

Helicopters made water drops on a steep ridge above Sierra Madre near Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park, about 15 miles northeast of Los Angeles and just east of Pasadena. A fixed-wing water tanker also dropped flame retardant.

Aircraft were also helping fire officials assess the movement of the blaze, which was being pushed northwest into Angeles National Forest, Batallion Chief Tim Davis of the Forest Service said.

“It’s very steep, inaccessible terrain, and it’s very heavy brush,” Davis said at a news conference. “Very difficult and arduous labor for these crews. You can’t get bulldozers into the majority of where these fingers of fire run.”

The blaze stranded 50 guests from a wedding party at the Chantry Flats ranger’s station on Saturday until they were airlifted out Sunday afternoon, Weaver said. It took five helicopter trips from the ranger’s station to the parking area where the wedding party’s cars were. The party then was escorted out by road.

The couple, Ken and Julie Grady, noticed the smoke not long after they had exchanged vows.

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Fire Update ***13: Another photo

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Los Angeles county hand crew and fire fighters work to put out hot spots in the foothills of Sierra Madre Sunday, April 27, 2008, in Sierra Madre, Calif. The blaze started Saturday night in the Angeles National Forest north of Sierra Madre and grew to 270 acres threatening homes and forcing evacuation. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)
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