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Fire on the Mountain Part 2 .
September 25th, 2002 by Ken Hagler

Fire on the Mountain Part 2. A picture named LAFair-Fire.jpg
Fire on the Mountain Part 2
It appears the silly bastards who started a fire on the mountains above us, by doing some ritualistic sacrifice of a goat a couple weeks ago, must have thought they didn’t get the job done. This time it appears they had to bring the BBQ to finish the job but instead they’ve burnt down the entire mountain.
Sunday afternoon in the 106 degree heat, a plume of smoke started rising up near Glendora, a town about 3-4 miles North of us. The fire started quickly and the smoke billowing off the mountain was growing larger by the minute. The neighborhood was a buzz with the phrase “Fire on the Mountain” as we looked out our patios and pointed toward the plume. It didn’t look like it was much worse than the earlier fire. However within hours ash and smoke was covering the entire valley and the LA County Fairgrounds. Every extra fire truck, forestry fire fighter and conservation fire crew was running full tilt toward the mountain. The news was reporting it was about 4,300 acres and over 1000 fire fighters were on the mountain. Oh damn it was going to be a long night.
By Monday, the plume was in multiple places along the ridgeline and growing. However it was beginning to move down the mountain toward houses and cabins of friends of ours. It was raining ash over our yard and beginning to look like Pompeii. A phone calls were in order, Do you need help? We can take both trucks and move your stuff out. Yes. Do you need help moving out the horses? Again the answer was yes. We hooked up the trailer and loaded the trucks up with water, towels and blankets.
Most of Monday we moved horses and livestock to Industry and Chino. The most of the horses were more than happy to get out of the smoke. It was a long day. By 7 PM I realized I hadn’t eaten when a sheriffs shoved a ham sandwich in my hand and told me we needed to get out of the canyon, because the wind had changed direction and was headed our way. We threw the belongings of our friends in the trailers and headed out with the sprinklers running and the fire choppers heading in to start the water drops on the property. I felt like I was in the middle of a bombing run.
A picture named FireWilliams2002.jpgBy the time we got off the mountain we decided to group over at another friends home and eat a real dinner. From their patio about 3 miles from the fire and a mile from us we got our first glimpse of the real scope of the fire. The fire-line stretched along a line including Azusa, Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne and Claremont. It was the longest stretch of fire Doug had ever seen since they moved from LA to the valley when he was a child. The last time the fire had burned up there was when he was in Kindergarten about 1960.
As we watched the fire was dancing as it ate up the brush and trees. We kept in touch with the guys as they headed back up the mountain to check on the house despite the evaculation order. So far the firefighters had held the fire back from the properties. We tried to rest at the house but ended up measuring time by listening for the helicopters taking water from the lake nearby for making the water drops. It was a long, long night.
By this morning the fire had grown to over 10,000 acres and it was obvious the crews couldn’t get a handle on it yet, despite the backfires and the water drops. The temperatures were all ready climbing over 80 degrees. We had to go check on the livestock and horses while the kids unloaded the trailer into the garage. While we were out it was officially announced the Angeles National Forest was completely closed to the public for the rest of the fire season.  They also are trying to declare it a disaster area.
A picture named FireWilliams2002-2.jpg
The entire day was spent running between the livestock and the mountain. The fire has grown to nearly 18,000 acres and still not contained. Over 3000 fire fighters are on the mountain. It had burnt down over 50 cabins and homes up on the mountain. The ham tower at Johnstone Peak was down from the fire. Hams were working other repeaters helping out. Friends called to tell us the flames and smoke were visible from the downtown Los Angeles. South Coast Air Quality Management District in Diamond Bar put out a warning because of the smoke and ash in the air for the Los Angeles basin.
We drove up the canyon tonight to check on friends who lived on one of the back canyons to find they’d had a water drop slightly miss and hit their house. While their were a few broken tile, everything was still standing and okay. The fire had come within 20 feet of the house.
As night fell tonight the fire fighters announced that the fire had broken the Glendora Ridge and Baldy Village on Mt. Baldy was being evacuated. At this point everyone we know are all right, but the sight of fire dancing on the hills directly outside my window are not a comforting sight. [Mary Wehmeier’s Blog Du Jour]

A very interesting eye-witness account of the current rather large fire. Brush fires are very common in Southern California, but this one is the worst in quite a while. These fires happen because most of the people in SoCal spend nearly all their lives in the city, and have no idea how to behave when they get outside of it. Throwing matches or cigarette butts away is merely littering in a city, but can easily start a large fire in the dry brush.


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