Mandatory evacuations in fire-threatened areas in California have been announced. Residents in neighborhoods in Altadena, Glendale, Pasadena, La Crescenta and Big Tujunga Canyon are leaving their homes and Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger in a television appeal this morning, asked everyone to obey the mandatory evacuations. Updates below 9-1-09.
The latest reports says that 35,000 acres have been burned and 10,000 homes are under evacuation orders. Five hundred commercials buildings are threatened.
Captain Mike Dietrich, the U.S. Forest Service commander in charge of this fire says he has never seen a fire grown so rapidly without Santa Ana winds to propel it:
…it is the “perfect storm of fuels, weather and topography coming together.
In northern Pasadena, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab had flames dangerously close to the facility but today the fire has seemed to move on toward the town of Acton.
This report says that the underbrush in the area has not been burned off in 60 years, so high winds weren’t need to spark the flames in an area with humidity under 10 percent. Doesn’t it make you wonder why the brush hasn’t been dealt with? Could it be that environmentalists were able to ban the clearing?
As of this report yesterday, at least threes homes were destroyed in the Angeles National Forest, and today’s reports have not increased that number so far. While this fire is the largest and most dangerous, it is not the only fire the state is dealing with. Yosemite Nation Park has had 5-1/2 square miles burned and the county of Mariposa is under a state of emergency and about 100 residents have been evacuated, with more to come.
Mount Wilson is a huge concern because “many of the region’s broadcast and communications antennas” are in the area as well as Mt. Wilson Observatory.
Three people were reported injured and air-flighted out of the evacuation area.
The case of the fires are not known but are under investigation. Two thousand fire fighters are on the job. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection offers online updates. See an interactive map here. I cannot vouch for its accuracy or rate of update.
As 2,000 firefighters are battling the widespread blazes through the Los Angeles area, two firefighters are reported non-burn injured today in a house fire, unrelated to the wildfires, and referred to as a “Hollywood estate.” fire near Runyon Canyon. It took more than 2 hours for 130 firefighters to get the fire under control. The house had areas of dry brush around it and it was feared the house would expand.
In the past 12 hours, the blaze around Los Angeles is said to have increased by 15,000 acres in a 12 hour period. Officially today, the LA fires are only 5% contained. Damage estimates stand at about $13.6 million. Fifty structures are believed to be destroyed. 3,600 firefighters are on the job on this area.
Two firefighters died and one is hospitalized with renal failure due to dehydration.
The original fire that started on Wednesday August 26th is now identified at the “Station” fire. Thirty cabins and bildings are known to be destroyed in Big Tujunga Canyon.
Two firefighers have died when their truck overturned or plunged over down a hillside due to low visibility. The details are not yet clear. the 100-year old Mt. Wilson Observatory is now under dire threat. Mt. Wilson is home to 22 television and radio transmission towers. According to this report, a couple thought they would be safe in their hot tub, but…not. They did not heed the evacuation orders and later were injured and needed rescuing.
In San Diego, firefighters are heading north to help with the LA fires.
Fires in the Yucaipa community, referred to as the Pendleton Fire called for 400 home evacuations in the Wildwood Canyon – “east of Fremont Street to Oak Glen Road and everything north of Wildwood Canyon Road.”. This fire originated mid-afternoon, Monday, August 31st.
Photo credit: Chatty Kathy