Monday, August 31, 2009

LA's Station Fire Triples In Size Overnight

by: Lou Angeli

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST (August 31, 2009) – A massive wildfire burning east of the City of Los Angeles has tripled in size in less than 24 hours. Over 105,000 acres is burning in a rapidly moving blaze that left 2 LA County firefighters dead.

The fire started near the City of LaCanada in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest, part of the San Gabriel Mountains. Yesterday, 32,000 acres of super-dry Douglas Fir, Scrub Oak and Manzanita were ablaze, fed by 20mph winds. By 4:30pm (EDT) today, the Los Angeles County Fire Department reported that 105,000 acres were involved, and the inferno shows no signs of letting up.

Steep terrain, decadent old growth brush and hot dry weather are factors that drive fire activity. Firefighters are working to build firelines and protect structures within areas affected by the fire.

The blaze is currently threatening dozens of LA County communities, including Pasadena and Glendale, as well as the City of Los Angeles. In total, 15,000 homes and 600 commercial structures lie in the path of the firestorm. Thousands have already left their communities with additional evacuations being announced on an hourly basis.

The fire is also threatening the Mount Lukens TV Tower Site, Mount Wilson Communications Facilities and the Observatory itself. Command fears that the blaze may reach these locations within the next 24 hours.

According to the LA County Fire Department website, flames as tall as 80 feet are the norm for this rapidly advancing blaze. The loom-up of dense white smoke could be seen as far as Ventura, along the Pacific coastline.

Unified Command is in place with the US Forestry Service serving as the lead agency.
In addition to USFS fire units, the National Park Service, LA County, LA City, CalFire, Glendale and Pasadena Fire Departments are all in service. In total, 2600 personnel operating from 290 Engines are on the frontlines, being aided by 8 air tankers, 7 heli-tankers and 6 helicopters.

On Sunday two Los Angeles County firefighters battling the Station fire were killed in a vehicle crash as they attempted to outrace the fire. Fire Captain Tedmund Hall and Firefighter Specialist Arnaldo Quinones lost their lives after the vehicle in which they were riding went over an embankment and into a ravine.


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