Monday, August 31, 2009

Altadena Fire Update: 9 pm Monday

My friends and I, we look at the clouds of smoke and guess. A white puff, that means a new fire. A brown one, maybe deeply brown, that means structures or gas lines. It helps to think we do know something, even though we know we don’t.

I took one dog out to a hill to chase the ball, because the dogs have been cooped up. But they’re good dogs, so they don’t chew up the house, they just chase each other from room to room.

And I saw this to the west.

East, west, nothing’s best. I’m not going to guess where this is – but certainly north west of Altadena. Some huge craft flew over my house and I couldn’t see what it was. That means smoke is settling down around us for the night.

Update from Greg Sweet on pack station at Chantry Flats: "Well, the mule, the donkeys and the goats from the pack station are at Santa Anita Racetrack. Fred, the mule, trailers easily, and some of the old-timer donkeys aren't much problem either. But there are some new BLM's (that's horse speak for Bureau of Land Management rescues) and they were a bit of trouble. Also trouble was trying to turn around the tractor-trailer horse-hauling rigs in the little pack station lot (very expensive by the way). As far as anyone can tell, no fire has entered Big Santa Anita Canyon, but being tucked under the east side of Mt Wilson, it was wise to get the animals out now." (GS)

5 p.m.

On an editorial note, if we have to name fires and other natural disasters, "Station Fire" is bloody lame. Maybe that's why media coverage has been so lousy. This is SoCal. Don't skimp on the publicist.

Station Fire: 105,000 acres burned. Biggest LA County fire in 100 years.

Backfires have been lit between Mt Lowe and Mt Wilson in an effort to save the structures and telecommunication devices on Mt Wilson. That this probably means Mt Lowe has already burned is devastating, as it has been home away from home to many hikers such as myself.

Backfires have been lit near Freeman Av in La Crescenta.

Portions of Sunland are now under mand evac, and additional areas in La Canada.

And it appears that they opened some evac areas in Altadena, only to close them again. Don't quote me on that. I was driving on Loma Alta and it seemed most/many areas remained restricted.

1 pm

(Picture of Alt Stables Trainer Marcy McLemore & assorted helpers)

Horses are back at Altadena Stables after their brief intermission at Equestrian Center. Eques Center will now be taking in a new set of evacuees from areas under threat. I heard Flintridge Stable horses were taken to Santa Anita Racetrack for safe keeping. Witnessing the transport of literally tons of livestock is awe inspiring. Wisely, my main assignment was to make a coffee run.

And just because everything has to be an adventure these days, the (6? 8?) horsetrailer blew a tire on the last trip home. So, you know, I meant to take some impressive photos of the homecoming, but stuff happens.

8 a.m.

All my neighbors are saying the same thing, "My house leaks." Not water; air. We wake every morning to the stench of smoke and ash. Of course, outside it's a hundred times worse, until about mid-day.

The Station Fire has now burned 85,000 acres, and is 5% contained. Mt Wilson is still in imminent danger. Most if not all evac's remain in place.

In about an hour I'm driving to Burbank to see if I can find my horse.

Just heard from Greg Sweet with unfortunate news. "Adams' Pack Station at Chantry Flat just got the mandatory evacuation notice - 7:30am. Going to help out (the barn kitties come to me). Also one mule, 12 donkeys, 6 goats, and 5 laying hens."


Again, this link is excellent. Firefighter. Tells you where the fire stands. I hestitate to interpret, but it looks like it is well behind Santa Anita Canyon. Let's hope the evac stays precautionary. Also, last I heard, fire might reach Mt. Wilson by tonight.


  1. I've got cat carriers if you should need them.

    The fires headed towards Santa Anita Canyon? not good

  2. Dear friend, I hope this thing will end soon. I heard news even from italian tv. ciao take care.

  3. Great work on the fire coverage, wish you had the option to not be in the middle of things. Also thanks for looking out for the animals displaced by this. Talked to a guy at Santa Anita Race Track yesterday, he said they've taken in a lot of the local horses.

    Pas Adj- Today is the first day we've really had bad smoke / air, can't see anything right now but wouldn't be surprised if it is moving this way.

  4. And I'll bet the Italian TV coverage was way better than ours.

    PA, I'm wondering if you'll post one of your great Mt Wilson videos.

    Italo, thanks so much for your daily visits. You always make me smile.

    Keith, I hate hearing that.

  5. No, not good if it's going further east into the Big & Small Santa Anita Canyons.. But, at least I knew the pack station had a plan to get their animals outta there.

    Still it would be very sad to maybe also lose Camp Sturtevamt from 2 centuries ago (the last remaining camp from "The Great Hiking Era"), the cabins down there along the stream, as well as the pack train/station that feeds them.

    Let's hope the fire switches direction away from them. But, Keith in Monrovia is just seeing bad air today which suggest to me the fire hasn't changed course. I suspect Santa Anita racetrack is SRO with horses & other animals.

    Here's a 2nd for PA posting her Mt Wilson vids.

  6. Thanks for the updates - so scary the amount of damage that can be done in such a short amount of time.

  7. Thanks for the updates, and for the excellent link.

  8. Good luck with your horse and with all the animals you're helping. Thanks for the update. Thinking of you.

  9. Will you please get YOUR smoke out of MY hood. KIDDING. But the smoke has made it all the way to Hollywood. And my house leaks too.

    From the FireFighter Blog (AH/KB's Link)

    "Tanker 979, The 747 Supetanker Expected Over Fires Today"

    It's about time, they should have used that plane days ago.

  10. KNX reported yesterday that they could smell the smoke in Vegas.

    Keith, I was heading north on the 605 yesterday. The smoke was on its way to you for sure. A shot I took last night shows the smoke all blowing east. Don't know what it's doing today, seems to be sitting.

    I've been thinking about Vandy. I'm glad she's in Burbank. I hope all the mountain critters go there, too.

  11. I've been checking since this mornng to see about your horse.

    Hope all is well.

    (Be careful. You're beginning to remind me of the telegraph operator on the Titanic.)

  12. K, did they send the telegraph operator out for coffee?

  13. PA & MTG, that Mr. V is kind of bossy.

    Petrea, it's a logistical thing, and now there are other horses in direct danger.

    Bec, Terri, CO, Margaret, Terri --It's just nice to hear from you.

  14. Glad to get these updated, Karin. Sending hugs.

    I don't know how you are coping with the bad air. I'm not as close as you are buy my lungs hurt and Little Bit has been coughing.

  15. I am relieved too, Wandy is back. That means things look better in your area, also the smog/smell/threat, I assume. I saw you were inside the blue line yesterday, which also was worrying. The only good yesterday/today was the pictures of smiling people. I imagine the blown tire, really was the big adventure. Take care.

  16. You know how it got its name, don't you, Karin? It started near a Ranger Station. Fires get their names by accident, it seems.

    Thanks for all the information and updates. Riding home from downtown just now, it looks like there's very active fire down low in the La Crescenta or east of it.

  17. Things do seem up and down, in and out, over and under.

    We'll work on a name for the monster.


  18. Karin - the Telegraph Operator on the Titanic had to make several swimming trips to get ice for the bar.

  19. Petrea: What was KNX doing in Vegas? They should stay here and cover the fire. But I guess everyone deserves a little fun now and then.

  20. 5:30 pm. KNX reporting that 53 homes in La Crescenta have been destroyed.

  21. KNX wasn't in Vegas. They received a call from someone there. It's a 50,000 watt station and can be heard pretty far away.

    Actually their coverage has been pretty good. They've had at least two reporters on the fire most of the time, as far as I can tell. But I only listen in the car.

  22. Earl, damn, this is bad. I looked around this a.m. for anything about La Crescenta and couldn't find anything. So I thought things had improved. They're worse, from what I can tell.

  23. Karin: The report about 53 homes in La Crescenta may have been wrong, because I'm not hearing it from other sources and I may have misunderstood. We'll have to see.

    Petrea: You should know my sense of humor by now!

  24. I'd would tend to agree with Mr. Earl. I'm still downtown LA near 5th and Alameda. Taking a break just before the sun went down I went up on my roof. From my roof I could see low smoke erupting almost directly to the North. Actually using a Compass it was about 10 degrees North East, off of true North.

    This is an interesting site for locating specific points as this whole mess unfolds:

    (It's basically a Google map tool and maps things "As the crow flies")

    Try it!

    Gotta go back to work.

  25. Thank you for the constant updates!!

  26. Yeah, La Crescenta losing 53 homes is news to me too. I hope it's wrong.

    But, I do know firefighters today started backfires in La Crescenta which I think is what you may have seen, MrE.

  27. Regarding fire names, when I was the only one left at Chantry Flat after the storms of 2005 washed out the road, I reported a piece of Oak tree that was arcing on a power line. Edison actually flew a repairman in on helicopter to fix it, but it had already scorched much of the tree. Since there was damage to a forest "resource", the local ranger said that he had to apply a name to the incident. He asked if I would like it to be named the "Sweet Fire" but I told no, that it sounded as though I had started it. So, I you ever run across a reference to the "Chantry Fire" of 2005, it was just my twig whacking against a power line.

  28. I should comment to KB's post rather than to de comments, so here's a 2nd cup of comment:
    I knew the donkeys & Fred "the mule" wood get outta there. But, wow that wasn't an easy pleasure drive down that narrow, winding road back down to town. Especially with animals -and humans- riding together.

    I have to guess the donkeys had to be thinking: "hell, we could've gotten outta here on our own 4 feet easier!"

    Thanks for all the help & info, Mountain Man! Maybe the owners can name a mule or donkey after you.

    Now, pray for the decades & decades & decades old cabins & camp down in that canyon.

  29. I heard on the news today that brown smoke means dense fuel. It doesn't sound good.

  30. "Sweet Fire." That's what you could call your C&W band.

    Karin, I'm hoping what you saw to the west was smoke from the backfires in La Crescenta. We saw it when we walked in the Lower Arroyo.

  31. The big fire shooting up this evening in La Crescenta must be the backfire, I saw them starting it on TV. I'm sad that the deer were hiding there - they were reported as racing down the streets to escape. Please give them succour! I looked at the damage from the Devil's Gate dam wall with binoculars, and the Echo Mountain trail looks untouched, as well as Echo mountain and Las Flores Canyon. Millard canyon where the cabins are may have been saved, but further up, by the Dawn Mine, it was smouldering. The Arroyo above JPL looks badly burnt. Anyone have more info?

  32. Classic AH disclaimer (I like it.) You must be feeling better now that Vandy is safe and back home.

    On the flip side I just saw Mondays LA Times; Very much out of Control'... almost everyone here could have written that several days ago...

  33. We're all sitting here hanging on your every word for news. City Daily Photo's Theme today is BIG. I think the California delegation has that sewed up. It's big and it's tragic. I am so sorry for the loss of lives, property and your beautiful land.

  34. The pure power of nature is awe inspiring and terrifying. We have fires like this every year in my province, although I have never had to face this kind of threat myself. My prayers go out to you and the others whose homes are in danger. I'm so glad that there are those who reach out to the animals in these crises to ensure their safety, as well. Stay safe.

  35. Thanks all. Ain't LA Times wonderful MTG? (Yes I am feeling better. You can really only stay in panic mode for so long.)

    Bellis, I'm trying very hard to locate info on what has burned within our forest and mountains, but so far can't find anything. That doesn't mean it isn't out there somewhere; I'll keep looking. Maybe Greg Sweet will chime in. He seems to have a better handle on the wilderness than anyone.