Station Fire was arson

At 6 pm tonight, the LA Times is reporting that the Station Fire was caused by an act of arson. Ken left a comment in my last post alerting me to this report. Thanks, Ken. The LA Times reports:

September 3, 2009 | 5:53 pm

The Station fire has been classified as an arson fire, and authorities have launched a homicide investigation.

The massive blaze, which killed two firefighters, has been under investigation for days, with the focus being on a road turnout along Angeles Crest Highway north of La Cañada Flintridge.

“Forensic examination has led this team effort to conclude … that it was an act of arson,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore.

The Station fire, which has burned about 144,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest, is the largest fire in L.A. County history. Two firefighters died Sunday during a rescue effort, when their vehicle plunged down a mountain.

On Wednesday, investigators hunched under a scorched, 20-foot-tall oak tree off Angeles Crest Highway, using wire mesh sifters to search through the ash in an attempt to determine whether the Station fire was deliberately set.

Near Mile Marker 29, authorities were treating the fire’s suspected ignition site as a crime scene. Yellow tape cordoned off the area and authorities blocked the highway, turning away even Caltrans workers and earthmovers. Members of the bomb squad also arrived at the scene but officials declined to say what their role was in the probe.

“We believe it is the point of origin,” Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Mike McCormick said Wednesday. “They are doing a finely detailed, serious, serious search and investigation. We lost two firefighters in this.”

I was hoping for an accidental start, not arson. It is such a difficult crime for me to understand, frankly, and I’ve dealt with them all in my career as a criminal defense attorney. Only once did I have to defend someone who purposefully started a fire, and in that case, my client set fire to a cat. Pretty horrific and difficult to understand then, too.

Home Front & Station Fire Updates, 9/3/09

First, the Station Fire update. From this morning’s LA Times:
“More progress in Station fire, but canyons still under threat
September 3, 2009 | 7:04 am

The fire is now 38% contained and has burned more than 144,000 acres. It was moving southeast to the mountains high above Pasadena, Sierra Madre and Monrovia, and hand crews battled rugged terrain as they tried to protect well-known campgrounds, trails, recreation areas and the Stony Ridge Observatory. The western leg pushed toward Pacoima Canyon, prompting the evacuation of 11 homes.”

And from one of my sources: “144,753 @ 38% contain…..4,735 personnel on it, 64 homes and 49 outbuildings destroyed, helicoters have dropped 1.7 million gals. of water as this date an aircraft have dropped 670,000 gals. of retardent[.]”

One of the best collections of photos of the Station Fire I have found is from the Boston Globe, here

On the home front, here is last night’s sunset:

And some people have asked me privately about the recovery of my dog, Dakota, from her ordeal that has been going on since the end of April. After four months of “house arrest” I finally started letting her out for 15 minutes, twice a day. All was going well, until yesterday, when she somehow pulled the injury open. I am guessing it was jumping up on the back porch. She came back early, was whimpering, wouldn’t sit down, and was otherwise in pain. It could have been worse, so I am treating it at home, for now, and putting her back on house arrest.DSC_0618