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Two Los Angeles County firefighters killed in vehicle accident near Station fire [Updated]

Two Los Angeles County firefighters battling the Station fire were killed this afternoon in a vehicle crash.

Officials announced the death at an emotional news conference, saying that the families of the fallen firefighters had been notified and that department chaplains were with them.

The accident occurred near Mt. Gleason earlier this afternoon. Details of the crash were not immediately available, but TV footage showed a truck rolled over on a mountainside.

[Updated at 8:29 p.m.: County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant fought back tears when he announced the deaths. He said the accident occurred during a period of intense firefighting near the northern edge of the fire near Acton. He did not release the names of the firefighters.

FiremanDuring the news conference, officials said they were growing optimistic that the fire would not sweep through Acton. "We're optimistic," said U.S. Forest incident Commander Mike Dietrich. "But based on this fire's behavior, we have no guarantees for that community."]

 Officials also announced that at least 18 structures have been destroyed by the Station fire, but they added that number will probably grow.

The fire burning in Angeles National Forest is approaching the historic solar observatory and television transmission towers atop Mt. Wilson, according to Los Angeles County fire officials. The communications towers house transmitters for every major television station in Los Angeles. 

Crews were clearing brush around the structures Sunday evening, but fire officials were not sure if they could leave personnel on the mountain to fight the flames because of the danger and limited escape routes.  [Updated at 8:29 p.m.: Crews are still at Mt. Wilson. TV footage shows fire on two sides of the peak.]

[Updated at 9:24 p.m.: News of the firefighters' death brought immediate tributes from other agencies involved in fighting the Station fire as well as some residents whose homes are in the path of the flames.']

“This accident is tragic,” Bryant said. “This is a very difficult time for L.A. County Fire Department and the men and women that serve day in, day out.”

He added: "We ask for your understanding, for your patience as we move through this difficult time, and please, prayers for the families of our two brothers that we lost."

-- Hector Becerra at Hansen Dam and Anna Gorman

Top photo: Smoke from the Station fire billows as the moon glows over Soledad Canyon Road in Acton. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times.

Second photo: A Los Angeles County fire fighter sprays walks by a wall of fire as he fights the Station Fire August 30, 2009 in Acton, California. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

More photos
Southland wildfires

Related articles: 

Red-flag warning extended amid forecast of more dry heat and winds

Fire forces Acton family to take stock of what is important


The Station fire

How are you coping?

Comments () | Archives (44)


Shut up and sit down!

I grew up in Sunland and have many friends and family still there, my heart sinks to see this beautiful community in danger. These people who put their lives on the line deserve our support and repect, my condolences to the families who have lost so much. My respect and support to the families with loved ones still in danger, and my disgust to the people making hurtful comments on things they do not know anything about. Instead of being angry with the few resources available due to budget cuts and our nations economy, step up and offer to help in any way possible. That is what being a community is all about, coulda, shoulda, woulda just doesn't cut it. My thoughts and prayers are with all involved.

To all the firemen and women we thank you for all your work and dedication. please keep your selfs safe and we will keep praying for all of you and all the families that have lost there loved ones.

Be Safe!
Robert Ketchum III
United States Coast Guard

I live in Altadena and have watched the fire crews work tirelessly protecting our homes. Our prayers go out to the families of the lost firefighters. I hope that a memorial fund can be set up so that we can donate something to their heroic efforts.

My apologies to all those that felt offended by my posting. My prayers to the families of those who gave their lives to protect the rest of us from the fire. I simply asked for an investigation and by no means did I mean to accuse anyone of wrong doing. I see that some postings helped explain the politics of resource deployment. I hope this conversation continues to provide more information to those of us not in the front lines. There should be no reason for second guessing if the information is put out there for everyone to see. There is no excuse for not doing a better job at keeping the public informed.

Does anyone know whether funds for the families have been established? I know many in the foothill communities would like to give back.

Read the comment below and see what kind of people these men try and save and protect, ungrateful and defintly has no clue on what fireman do.. These men were great guys I knew them personally and they gave there lives for the community.. May GOD bless them and there families... La County FFPM

Need to investigate why fire was allowed to grow over a a period of two days while it was still manageable but not threatening homes. Most coverage and attention seemed to have focused on the fire by the beach. Now it has become unaffordably costly with loss of lives involved.
Posted by: Silicones | August 30, 2009 at 08:56 PM

One of the reasons why this fire grows more and more everyday is because they can only fight this brush fire during the day, due to the vast amount of smoke that billows. Since there is so much smoke the water drops and such are not able to go into the danger zone, one because they have no sight of to where they are or where the other aircrafts are and two the smoke can get into these aircrafts and can cause the air crew to possibly black out or even die due to possible inhaling the heat smoke and ashes. So the safest way is to attack the station fire from sunrise to a little after there is no sunlight. But they are still doing other things throughout the night.
Firefighters, fire crews, and even volunteer fire-2's are doing thier best to contain this brushfire but there is only so much they can do..
right now they have about 1800 firefighters/firecrews etc. battling the blaze, but there are about 2000 more on their way from surrounding cities/states to assist in the hopes of ending its trail sometime this week.

Arnie you will be missed. I'll remember the good times hanging out and will pray for your family.

God Bless them and the family. We will not forget! Please if any info of funeral please advise. God be with you!

I'm a so cal resident and I am very sorry to here this news. May this thing be gone soon... BLEESED BE

So so sad, my dad LA fire captain is up there right now and he knew these guys. Im praying for all the firefighters up there. God Bless

My ex-husband is a firefighter, each day we pray for his safe return him. I am so sorry for the loss of the two fallen heroes. Firefighters are the true heroes in this world. They are brave and compassionate and forever will be in our hearts.

As Director of Operations for a southern California firefighters' charity, I am very saddened about the loss of these two heroes. Firefighters are family, and our thoughts go out to the families and friends.

These sacrifices occur all too often, and especially in our state because of the high fire danger. Its why organizations like ours were founded, to care for firefighters and their families through sickness, distress, and death. Firefighters put their lives on the line every day to protect us. Too often, they are killed in the line of duty or shortly after retirement by cancer, lung, or heart disease.

I am so sorry for their families. Is there a fund for them or a way to contribute? I have an event coming up at my home this weekend and wanted to put something out for attendees to donate. The foothill communities could not exist without the protection of these brave men and women.

There is a way to contribute. We are collecting donations for Los Angeles Fireman's Relief Association and will present them to our brothers and sisters in LA. You can donate via our website at http://www.sdfra.org/give.html. Make sure to specify that you want your donation to go to Los Angeles Firefighters.

We are also beginning a campaign to collect well wishes to the Hall and Quinones families and all the firefighters working so hard to protect life and property on these fires. If you would like your sentiments given to them, you may post them here and we will ensure they are added to the presentation.

In my profession I work with these courageous individuals everyday, (LAFD). When I heard of the loss I instantly felt for their families at home as well as their families at the station. This is tragic. My prayers go out to those brave Firefighters of La County, LAFD, and to every last one of the agencies who were called for duty and are still out there trying to bring this fire to an end.

Our hearts go out to the families and colleagues of our fallen brothers. My fiancee and I are both wildland firefighters (recruits) with a state forestry agency and we both have more than a few seasons under our belts. However, no amount of experience can prepare you for the loss of a brother, much less two. RIP

And to the rest of our comrades in arms on the front lines, we're proud of all of you. Stay strong.

Frank Johnson
Tami Brown-Johnson

Does anyone have any idea where I can send a card and some words of gratitude to?? Please email me. Thank you.

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