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Fire forces Acton family to take stock of what is important


The bluff overlooking Bootlegger Canyon in Acton is filled with nervous homeowners and dozens of firefighters, who were looking out onto the smoldering hills and several spots where the ridges are engulfed in flames 20 to 25 feet high.

The fire is chewing its way through the thick brush and illuminating the dark sky. One of the residents, Kathy Howald, looked out onto her house about 1/2 mile away and saw the blinking lights of fire trucks.

At 2:30 a.m. a police officer drove through her neighborhood calling for a voluntary evacuation.

About an hour later, an automated call instructed her that the evacuation was now mandatory. Howald said she and her husband called for someone to pick up the horses, but the horses refused to get into the trailer. 

As the flames grew, she was nervously looking out to her house and worrying about her horses. She was able to pack up her two cats, paintings, computers, photographs and her musician husband’s collection. The fire has made her and her husband take stock of what is important, she said.

“As long as we have got each other, everything is okay,” she said.

Howald praised the work of the dozens of firefighters scattered throughout the neighborhood, saying they worked tirelessly to protect the houses.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Greg Jones, overseeing the operation in Bootlegger Canyon, said there were about 20 engines in the canyon area. He also has a team of bulldozers. One house in the area has burned.

Several firefighters were trapped momentarily as they tried to protect a house and rescue the homeowner. They hunkered down with oxygen masks until the fire passed. Jones said the fire continued to move in a southeastern direction.

-- Joel Rubin in Acton

Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff deputies and residents help evacuate horses as the Station fire burns in the hills above Acton, Calif. on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2009. Credit: Dan Steinberg / AP

More photos
Southland wildfires

Related articles: 

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

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


The Station fire

How are you coping?

Comments () | Archives (9)

God bless the firefighters.

Indeed, and keep them safe.

I pray for the residents, the firefighters and all the affected animals.

We lost our home in the Buck Weed wildfire in October 2007, my heart still hurts. I pray that the hand of God will protect over everyone. Leave and go to a safe place, don't wait to be evacuated. Husbands, men take the lead and don't wait! Your leadership as a man is very important right now. Glad we left when we did - we lost everything, but have eachother! Thank God.

May the winds cool down, and the marine layer come in soon, and calm things down a bit.

Let's hope it cools down alittle and that a marine layer kicks in quickly to help slow down this fire.

We were evacuated from Santa Barbara this year. The only thing to remember is, life is precious and the safety of the living comes way before the material. We left, albeit reluctantly, taking all pets and important documents. Those who stay behind are risking all, and they cause the authorities work by taking them away from their duties. Jumping into water is insane. I was in the outback fires near Melbourne Australia. when a man in a nearby homestead jumped into his water tank, thinking he would be safe. He boiled to death. Be Safe. Be Sure.

i lived in ojai,ca. fires are very wicked. please leave as soon as your asked to as the fireman police have enough to do besides helping people leave at the last moment. my brother in law is fighting this fire so keep the wives and husbands and children in your prayers, my sister lives in ojai and she calls me to keep us posted. may god keep you all in the palm of his hand. we are praying for you here in arkansas.

excellent work please keep updating


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