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Fire burns 105,000 acres with no control in sight


A voracious five-day-old wildfire that has churned through more than 105,000 acres of mountainous brush across northern Los Angeles County showed little sign of slowing down this afternoon as it threatened 12,000 homes in suburban tracts and desert communities, along with a historic observatory and major array of television and radio transmission towers.

With afternoon winds picking up, the Station fire, the largest of eight burning in the state, was plowing through dense hillside vegetation and steep terrain toward residential areas of Sunland and Santa Clarita on the west.

As billows of white and black smoke danced ominously close, Chuck Horn ushered his family and his two prized collectors' automobiles out of his home in the Sunland-Tujunga area.

"We took pictures, tax returns, insurance forms, the dog, the chicken, and that's it," Horn, 61, a retired L.A. County public works employee, said as he prepared to drive away in his baby blue 1931 Plymouth three-window coupe. Horn was next planning on moving his black 1911 Buick Model 33 away from the blaze.

To the east, firefighters were hoping that a concerted effort to cut fire breaks and lay down fire retardant would save the Mt. Wilson Observatory and a key complex of communications towers.

Because of the intensity and unpredictability of the blaze, which continued shifting directions, fire crews had to pull out of the mountaintop area today and wait for the firestorm to pass.

By 3 p.m. the southeastern edge of the Station fire had pushed south against the wind, into the upper west fork of the San Gabriel River drainage. This fire was near the base of Mt Wilson’s north side. Firefighters had begun back-burning brush at the juncture of California 2 and Mt. Wilson Road in order to protect structures, including an American Indian cultural center, from the advancing fire.

The drama of families having to flee their homes -- or risking all to try and defend their property -- played out repeatedly as searing heat and a generation of accumulated hillside growth fed the fires. In Gold Canyon, authorities scrambled to rescue five people who had refused to evacuate.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s helicopter was trying to locate the residents near Little Tujunga Road.  They pleaded for help after becoming trapped by back fires set by crews trying to fight the blaze.

Sixty-five firefighters withdrew from Chilao Flats near the Chilao ranger station.  "The intensity of the fire was too strong," said L.A. County Fire Capt. Henry Rodriguez. "They were pulled off the lines and drove away in their vehicles. They're safe and all OK."

Another fire in San Bernardino County was spreading completely out of control and threatening 2,000 homes near Yucaipa.

-- Rich Connell and Corina Knoll

Photo by Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (18)

So, people were told to leave, they didn't and now want to be rescued? Is it inappropriate to recommend that they get a bill?

Leave the idiots who refused to leave... no sense risking firefighters on stupidities behalf. Fire is a good cleanser for the gene pool.

How can I become a volunteer fire fighter ? Any phone # I can call ?

Why not show the extent of the fire as seen from space? NASA has instruments that can map the hot spots and show their spread. Take a look at spaces images shown on The Earth Observatory: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=40011


11 paragraphs for the main story about the massive fires burning here in Los Angeles in the LA Times ?!
How pathetic that to glean a true in -depth report about about this disaster in my community, rather than turn to our local paper site, I instead read a much more informative, dense, more detailed and longer account in the NY Times !
The LA Times continues its disappointing slide into mediocrity.
Shame on you for the lackluster, simplistic, barely there reporting for a major news story in your own backyard !

I live in Barstow, and we're smoked way out here, have been for a day now, there's ash all over the ground here (white and black ash), and we're pretty far away, I hope they get this fire under control

Someone talked of taking tax papers, insurance forms etc. ~ scan and get these into email folders such a Yahoo.
Clearly you can't back it all up into your computer unless you can pick it up and carry it out the door.

The State is so corrupt and mismanaged they will let the fire burn and destroy the forest, its wild life and a few hundred or more homes.

Is it not time to take care of our forests with controlled burn and logging?

Man, the way people use tragedy to work their political agenda just makes me gag.

most of the reason why this fire is growing more and more everyday is partly because they do not fight it at night. One of the reasons being is that the air crew cannot see in the billows of smoke and might not know where the other aircrafts are, and second if they do water drops overnight the smoke can get in thier aircrafts and possibly kill them or damage their lungs causing them to possibly go uncontious or what not. but i do know that they are doing everything that they possibly can and have numerous plans for every situation.

Why do none of these active maps show the fire? Not Times, ABC 7, CS 2, they show bizarre triangles which are impossible to decode. Someone with the "NEWS" (like current developments!) should superimpose flames over the areas that are on fire, so if we look at the map we can tell, is Pinelawn Aae, on fire, or not? And how FAR IS IT FROM the flames to the street, no distance indicators.
The simplest thing, the one thing people consult the fire maps for, and not one map actaully shows which streets and houses are on fire, and which are not. USELESS. Some people would surmise they are intended to keep you uninformed, and thereby scarred, adnthereby tuned in!!

I can only hope the fire gods spare Mt. Wilson and its historic observatory complex.

RJT - exactly how much did you pay for that copy of the L.A. Times you are complaining about? My guess is it's the same amount you paid for the New York Times.

I agree with Mr. Gunthers remarks on the journalistic comparisons between lat and the nyt.. I'm reluctant to say more, but I'm following both now for coverage.

It is ironic that the Mt. Wilson Toll Road, that serpentine, historical route over which the larger telescopes were hauled to the observatories, was just reopened to public walking and biking last week after 4 1/2 years of closure due to El Nino induced landslides, but it is not yet passable by fire vehicles. Henninger Flats campground and an adjacent County fire station are up that dirt road ab0ut three miles but the final grooming to allow fire trucks and even mountain bikes an unfettered passage has not been done. It was the County Fire Dept's responsibility for repairing this section of the road but they stated that they could not spare the resources for this work until "after the fire season".

One of the concerns expressed about leaving firefighters at Mt. Wilson was that there was a shortage of escape routes. This road, if fully restored, would have constituted just such an additional escape route and one that leads down the south side of the range where the fire has not yet gone.

I hope a lesson has been learned and that this precious route will be diligently maintained in the future.

How did this fire get the name "The Station Fire"?


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