View Full Version : Southern California on Fire

09-28-2005, 11:21 PM
Updated: 12:44 AM EDT
Wind-Driven Wildfires Threaten Homes Near Los Angeles


LOS ANGELES (Sept. 29) - Wind-driven brush fires scorched nearly 2,500 acres north of Los Angeles on Wednesday, killing thousands of chickens at a farm while destroying at least one home and threatening others.

Flames engulf a home just off Santa Susana Road in the Chatsworth section of Los Angeles.

A mandatory evacuation was ordered in Box Canyon and a freeway was closed as the blaze hopscotched the roadway and burned at the west end of the San Fernando Valley.

Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Ron Haralson said more than 700 firefighters were on the scene. One firefighter was struck on the head by a 40-pound boulder and was taken to a hospital for treatment, Capt. Carlos Calvillo said.

The fire had burned over 1,200 acres and was 5 percent contained by evening, Haralson said.

A blaze in Riverside County spread over 1,300 acres between the cities of Redlands and Moreno Valley, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

That fire destroyed three chicken coops at a ranch believed to have housed 70,000 to 90,000 chickens, said Riverside County Fire Department spokeswoman Cheri Patterson. Thousands of chickens died.

"It's a vast amount," Patterson said.

Nearly 400 firefighters battled the blaze, which was 10 percent contained, officials said.

The National Weather Service issued a high-wind warning for parts of southwest California.

09-29-05 00:21 EDT

09-28-2005, 11:23 PM
Those Santa Ana winds are a bitch.

Let's hear from our Southern California residents?



09-29-2005, 12:40 AM
The Santa Ana winds aka the Devil Winds were extremely bad today and it was hot. The makings of a disaster waiting to happen. It's really sad :(
The winds blow all of our smog away and it was a beautiful day until about 2:30 this afternoon when the western sky was filled with smoke. The Chatsworth fire is in my old stomping grounds and fires happen in that area nearly every year. I now live about 20 minutes from there....but it really doesn't matter much on days like today. With the hills filled with chaparell pretty much surrounding this vast area......any place locally would be at risk on a day like today. It's the beginning of our fire season and this one looks like a doozy. While driving back to the office at the end of my workday fire trucks, police and 5 police trucks with horse trailers with sirens screaming were heading towards the fire ....ON THE FREEWAY.....at rush hour! They were trying to get the people to move out of the way......but how does one do that in bumper to bumper traffic? It was a sad sight to see..... I really hope that they got all of the horses and animals out. There are lots of ranches out that way. People had already been evacuated.
The fire had jumped the 118 freeway and it was closed in both directions making traffic in the valley a nightmare. God bless all of those firefighters!

09-29-2005, 11:10 AM

Thanks for that firsthand report, please keep us apprised, and ty, I know how these fires can spread when the Santa Anas blow!

Updated: 12:30 PM EDT
California Wildfire Doubles in Size
Wind-Whipped Blaze Threatens Homes in San Fernando Valley


LOS ANGELES (Sept. 29) - A wind-whipped brush fire quickly doubled in size Thursday to at least 7,000 acres, destroying at least one home and prompting evacuations as flames rose along a ridge for miles.

Helicopters began dropping water on the flames at daybreak as the fire threatened canyon homes in the San Fernando Valley, at Los Angeles' westernmost edge, and crept west toward dwellings near Thousand Oaks in Ventura County.

A steady stream of ash fell and orange flames illuminated the pre-dawn skies just west of the Chatsworth community, and the stench of smoke enveloped the area.

More than 1,000 firefighters battled the blaze, Los Angeles Fire Capt. Mark Savage said.

They expected a tough day Thursday, with low humidity, triple-digit temperatures and brisk winds, combined with the area's dry brush.

"We're going to have our hands full," Savage said.

The blaze, which was 5 percent contained, consumed a home and a detached garage and was threatening countless others, officials said.

Shelters were opened in Los Angeles and Ventura County.

About 45 evacuees gathered at Canoga Park High School in the San Fernando Valley, where the Red Cross had set up cots and provided meals.

"Our house is still OK, but oh, God, it's not a good feeling," said Phil Goldenberg, 53, who was at the school's gym with his wife and son.

Past wildfires fanned by Santa Ana winds have roared south to Malibu, the celebrity-packed community about 10 miles away, and firefighters feared a repeat with this blaze.

One firefighter was struck on the head by a 40-pound boulder and was taken to a hospital, officials said.

Firefighters did not know how the blaze began.

A blaze in Riverside County, meanwhile, spread over 1,160 acres between the cities of Redlands and Moreno Valley, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles. That fire destroyed three chicken coops at a ranch believed to house 70,000 to 90,000 chickens.

So far this year, wildfires have charred 8.16 million acres nationwide, compared with 7.74 million acres by the same time last year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

9/29/2005 11:40:59

09-29-2005, 12:24 PM
7000 acres? Give me a break, my south pasture's that big. Get a real fire going and I'll pay attention, until then, get a wet sack and start swinging. I watched some footage on CNN; some of those idiots have built right in the trees. They deserve a good roasting. I hope they take care of their pets.


09-30-2005, 12:33 PM
Updated: 03:14 PM EDT
Progress Made Against California Wildfire
400 People Remain at Shelters But Weather Makes Positive Turn

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 30) - Firefighters aided by improved weather made significant progress Friday against a wildfire that threatened thousands of homes and forced evacuations as it burned through 20,655 acres in the hills and canyons between the northwest edge of the city and suburbs to the west.

A return of airflow from the Pacific raised fire-slowing humidity levels, and winds were far calmer than at midweek, when strong, moisture-sapping, dry winds from the interior spread the fire rapidly.

The fire was 20 percent contained, up from 5 percent Thursday night, said Los Angeles County fire Deputy Chief Mike Bryant, the incident commander. Thirty-five percent containment was expected by day's end, he said.

"We're really happy with the weather today. This is a good opportunity for us," Bryant said at the unified command post in Thousand Oaks. "It is a very, very important day for us in fighting this fire."

Evacuations were canceled in 10 areas and remained in effect for only two, Lake Manor and Bell Canyon. Fingers of flame running down canyons in the Bell Canyon area were a problem early Friday, Bryant said.

Despite the fire's furious pace over the previous two days, confirmed structure losses stood at just one single-family home, three outbuildings, one storage building and one detached garage.

Just over 400 people remained registered at Red Cross shelters.

Fire crews planned to aggressively attack hot spots instead of simply trying to keep the fire from spreading, Bryant said, cautioning that the fire was far from over.

"We're going to be here another week at the minimum. We are going to have a lot of mop-up," Bryant said.

Some 3,000 firefighters from dozens of departments statewide, the California Department of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service were fighting the blaze, assisted by six retardant-dropping airplanes and 11 helicopters.

On Thursday, the fire moved west much of the day, menacing Ventura County communities, then sent flanks in the opposite direction as winds shifted with a return of onshore flow from the Pacific. As night fell, long lines of fire marched east toward the wealthy enclave of Hidden Hills and the western fringes of Los Angeles.

Mandatory or voluntary evacuations were put into effect for homes scattered throughout the canyons and in parts of area cities including Calabasas and Hidden Hills along the south side of the fire and 10 miles north to Simi Valley.

Smoke was so thick in the west San Fernando Valley that cars drove with lights on Thursday afternoon. Some people gathered at night and watched as flames approached Highway 101.

"If it wasn't for the wind changing, it would have jumped the 101 and gone all the way to the coast," said Joey Escobar, 45, who watched a hillside on fire with his wife, Ginger, 34. "It's like a fireplace."

The fire began Wednesday near the 118 Freeway in Chatsworth in the northwest corner of Los Angeles and moved southwesterly. Historically, some fires in the region have turned and burned about 10 miles south to U.S. 101 and sometimes have continued on south through the Santa Monica Mountains to Malibu and the Pacific Ocean.

Fire commanders said a major goal had been to keep the fire from reaching U.S. 101.

David Nenkervis, 64, said he was away from his home in Santa Susana Pass when it went up in flames. He said he returned to find he'd also lost several vehicles and his dog was missing.

"When you lose everything it's tough to have plans. Right now, my brain is not working. It's all mush. I can't even think about what I'm going to do tomorrow," Nenkervis said.

Actor Shelley Berman of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and his Bell Canyon neighbors evacuated Wednesday evening, taking a few items from the home he has lived in since 1984.

"We were sitting watching television, had finished a nice dinner, everything was fine. Other people were in serious trouble. Then suddenly, we were moving," said Berman, who went with his wife to a friend's house a few miles away in Westlake.

About 70 miles east of Los Angeles, about 1,200 people were evacuated from several small mountain communities in or near the San Bernardino National Forest, including Angelus Oaks, Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls, after a new fire erupted there Thursday. The fire covered 450 acres by Friday morning.

No homes or structures were damaged, but a firefighter was treated for back injuries after being hit by a boulder, said fire spokeswoman Kathy Ungemach.

One other large wildfire in Southern California was 100 percent contained after burning 1,160 acres in San Timoteo Canyon between Redlands and Moreno Valley in Riverside County. No homes were destroyed.

A small fire also was burning in the hills above the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank.

Associated Press Writers Gillian Flaccus, Paul Chavez, Lynn Elber and Alicia Chang contributed to this story.

09/30/05 14:36 EDT