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Station fire, among state's top 10, moves toward Littlerock, Juniper Hills

The Station fire grew to 157,220 acres overnight, making it the 10th-largest fire in California’s modern history, fire officials said today.

The fire, already the largest in modern history in Los Angeles County, was 51% contained, officials said.

Incident Commander Mike Dietrich said more than 4,800 personnel were working on the blaze and that one of the main priorities continued to be the eastern edge of the fire in the San Gabriel Wilderness, where flames “boiled out of Devil’s Canyon.” The fire also yesterday jumped north over a fire break at the Angeles Crest Highway.

Officials said the fire jumping the highway caused them to regroup and reassess their plan there. Meanwhile, a large plume of smoke drifted into the areas of Juniper Hills and Littlerock.

There are currently no evacuations, but officials said a platoon of 50 Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies had been sent into those communities in case an evacuation, voluntary or mandatory, was needed.

“We wanted to have a presence in that area,” said Michael Bryant, another encident commander. He said the fire “continues like a chess game.” “We do something, the fire does something different,” he said, noting how active and dynamic this blaze was.

Bryant said the fire was about five miles from Juniper Hills. “We want our communities not to panic,” Bryant said. Fire officials said the fire’s jump of the highway also threatened several structures.

It was not immediately clear how much damage was done in the area, and Dietrich said that it was too dangerous overnight for damage assessment teams to move in. Among the facilities still threatened was the Angeles Crest Christian Camp, and officials said they were unsure if it had been damaged.

The shape of the fire on that part of the eastern edge was somewhat of a horseshoe, with the open end to the northeast and with flames surrounding the Mt. Hillyer and Chilao area. Dietrich also said the Mt. Wilson area was “doing excellent, very good,” but that the fire was “munching, nibbling” on the southeastern area.

On the western edge of the blaze, near Pacoima Canyon, the fire continued to burn in steep and heavy terrain, but it was mostly contained on the most northern edges and to the southwest, officials said. One firefighter who was exposed to cyanide last week remained in the hospital, but was not in life-threatening condition, officials said.

Another firefighter earlier reported to have a broken leg apparently suffered only a deep bruise and was released from the hospital, Bryant said. In addition to the two firefighters who died Aug. 30, nine firefighters have been injured in the Station fire.

Roughly 5,000 residences are threatened and 76 have been destroyed in the fire, officials said. The fire so far has cost about $43.5 million to battle.

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz at Hansen Dam

Comments () | Archives (4)

please let us know.how close is the fire to wrightwood.

The largest contributing factor to the station fire was the build-up of hazardous fuels. This was the direct result of the ANF failure to treat fuels because they have a policy of not conducting prescribed burns. Prescribed burning is an effective way fo reducing fuels and improving wildlife habitat and the ANF refused to change its policy to use fire to reduce fuel hazards. The "Do Nothing Approach" has failed once again.

A significant contributing factor to the size of the Station Fire is the accumulation of hazardous fuels. This is the direct result of the ANF policy that did not allow the use prescribed fire to reduce fuel hazards. This policy has been an important factor that did not allow the use of a scientically-proven technique to reduce hazardous fuels and improve wildlifre habitat. The ANF "do nothing" policy has proven to be a disaster.

I grew up in Tujunga and lived there for the first 21 years of my life. I've lived in Long Beach since 1972, but my life has continued to be enhanced by the existence of the Angeles National Forest and all it contains, since that is where I go when I need to recover from the stress of life in the city. My heart is heavy over the devastation of this great treasure.

I lived at the top of Summitrose, on Fairgrove Avenue. I could walk out of the house and up into the hills. My best memories of my life are of family car trips through Angeles National Forest, to Mt. Wilson, Chilao and Charlton Flats or out Highway 2 to Palmdale. When I got old enough to buy a car, I'd drive up to Wrightwood and out to the 138 and take the 15 back home. When I was in High School my parents started going out to Acton in the spring to get sage honey, lilac bouquets, nuts and dried fruits from one of the ranches out there. In short, the southern California chaparral, mountains and wilderness areas have always been where I found solace and peace. The wilderness was my refuge, shaped my life and made me who I am.

In the past few years, I've made it a point to get out to the Hidden Springs Cafe as often as possible, as it was one of my favorite refuges. What wonderful times I had there, sitting at the tiny horseshoe shaped counter on one of the 11 rickety stools that had been there since the 1940's. All sorts of characters would stop by, great conversations took place with complete strangers, and I loved perusing the photo albums that Jim, Jan, Otis and Mom Elva kept on one of the shelves. It was especially fun to find the photo of Jan and Jay Leno taken when he stopped there on a motorcycle ride one day. I took as many people as I could drag up there to see the place and share it's warmth with them. Sadly, only a few took me up on my offer.

Christmas was my favorite time, and I encouraged the readers of my little Cajun and Zydeco events newsletter to go there to make their tin foil ornament to hang on the Cafe's annual holiday "Friendship Chain." Up the highway a bit and on the other side of the road, it turned out that one of my readers and her sister owned a cabin on a parcel of land they rented out as a movie ranch. I visited the ranch early this year and it was beautiful. I'm glad that I went there, met all those people and that I have some great photos to document my memories.

All this past week as the fires raged, I kept praying that somehow Hidden Springs would be spared. All week I kept turning on the tv for news of the fire and by some weird turn, every time I turned on the tv, I just missed the news reports of the fire. I didn't even think of looking online for the news. As I don't believe in accidents, I guess that subconsciously I didn't really want to know how bad it was. This morning at 4 am, I couldn't sleep and decided I'd Google "The Station Fire." I guess I was finally ready.

I found your map of the fire area and quickly located the photo of the charred remains of the Hidden Springs Cafe. Oh my God. Oh my God. Photo after photo of places I've gone countless times to find peace and renewal that are now charred beyond recognition. 158,000 acres reduced to ashes. Untold loss of wildlife and wildlife habitat. Highway 2 closed indefinitely. Millions of dollars in firefighting expense, no estimate yet of the millions in damages.

I am very sad. Not just for myself that those places are destroyed, but for the firefighters who lost their lives, their families, the people who lost their homes, the horrible loss of habitat, for the people who counted on being able to escape the city by going out there who will no longer be able to do so, and for so much more. I'm sad that there are people out there who do things like setting fires like this one.

I know that psychologists know what it is that makes arsonists tick. What I don't understand is why our culture seemingly does nothing to stop people from turning out this way. I don't understand how it is that there doesn't seem to be any way of identifying and stopping these people before they do something like this. I'm dumbfounded that there seems to be an endless supply of people like this, as year after year, fire after fire is set by some crazy who gets his jollies by doing so.

Today I am praying that the Chantree Flats area and the pack station, lodge and cabins in Santa Anita Canyon will be spared. I pray that we have a miracle and it rains today, bringing this fire to an end. Today I pray that humanity will be healed of all the things that we need to heal so that we stop creating people who are so damaged their only thought is of the satisfaction they apparently get by wreaking so much devastation.

God bless and help us all.


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