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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Arson or Accident? #Station Fire under investigation

From the Associated Press

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Firefighters made more progress Wednesday against a giant wildfire that has ravaged a national forest north of Los Angeles as investigators searched for more information about how the fire started.

Officials are still trying to figure out what set off the blaze in the Angeles National Forest that had burned nearly 219 square miles, or 140,150 acres, by early Wednesday. Deputy incident commander Carlton Joseph said Wednesday that the fire was human-caused, but it’s not known specifically how it was started or whether it was accidental or arson.

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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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Tweets from the Station Fire

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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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