Mike, of Firefighter’s blog originally captured this Mt. Wilson webcam shot, but I just couldn’t resist posting it here, it is pure magic! Look at that moonbeam on the right. And to think no photographer took this shot!
Here is tonight’s shot, taken a little before 11 pm. That’s the thing about fire, it is Janus – the two headed Roman God, looking both to the past and to the future. On the one hand, it is so very destructive. On the other, it can be quite beautiful.
Looks a little smaller than it did at 4 am.
And here is the link: Mt. Wilson webcam
Also, one of the scientists in charge of Mt. Wilson, arranged to fly out from Atlanta, GA a few days ago and is staying atop the Mt. He has been blogging about the experience here: Mt. Wilson blog
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.
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
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.
The media is now calling this the worst wildfire in Los Angeles history. It has now churned through 219 square miles, 140,000 plus acres, and destroyed 62 homes, but it is 22 percent contained, officials said at a morning briefing. High temps and lower humidity will play a factor again today and tomorrow.
Capt. Mike Dietrich, the Station Fire incident commander, was guarded in his assessment.
“Are we out of the woods?” he asked. “No. Have we turned the corner? No.”
I cannot imagine living in the shadow of this one.
It is hard not to be caught up in the drama of the dragon that is the Station Fire. Over 121,000 acres burned, or 190 sq.miles, 53 homes burned, 2 firefighters killed, and 3 civilians burned. Resources include: 3,655 personnel on it, 13 helicoters, 11 air tankers, 399 engines, 44 handcrews, 48 dozers, and 43 water tenders. Expected containment is not for 2 weeks. What a nightmare for all concerned.
LA Times reports today: “‘I’m feeling a lot more optimistic today than I did yesterday,’ said U.S. Forest Service Incident Cmdr. Mike Dietrich. ‘We made progress last night, not just due to humidity, but good darn firefighting. They’re fighting for every foot.’
And though officially the fire is still at 5% containment, Dietrich said officials will reassess that figure today and that he expected it to go up substantially. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. No additional homes were reported destroyed, but damages are estimated at $13.6 million.”
NorthTree Fire has a great place to get fire maps at: Here
KCAL-TV is reporting the entrapment of 5 civilians in the Station Fire, in the Gold Canyon area, an area evacuated 2 days ago. They are trapped on a ranch, and rescuers cannot get to them, except by helicopter, and conditions right now are too dangerous to attempt a rescue.
For complete coverage, see: KCAL-TV
An update and link regarding the above was posted by firefox in the comments below. Reporters drove in to see them, and they had NOT asked to be rescued, and were fine where they were. Please read the story.
I dedicate this to the men and women fighting the monster called the Station Fire, north of Los Angeles. It is the dragon, eating everything in its path. And particularly for the family, friends, and co-workers of the two brothers from LACo fire who were killed in a roll-over today on Mt. Gleason. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all.
For those who would like to do something, I suggest a donation to the Wildland Firefighters Foundation. They provide support to the families and friends of firefighters who are injured or lose their lives fighting wildland fires.