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Firefighters endure long night in La Crescenta battling flames

August 30, 2009 | 10:15 am


In La Crescenta, Mendocino firefighter Tim Caughlin spent much of Saturday and Sunday visiting hot spots on the Station Fire’s southwestern flank.

In the Paradise Valley subdivision, he drove along Ocean View Boulevard, stopping to speak with captains, to turn on a homeowner's sprinkler system and to radio for more engines. The canyon and the sloping backyards of the subdivision had continued to burn throughout the night. (An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to Ocean View Boulevard as Ocean View Drive.)

Caughlin, an aviation officer for the U.S. Forest Service, came to help fight the fire. As he and other firefighters turned their attention to the wall of orange smoke ascending from the canyon, they pulled back slightly, ready to engage the flames and protect a house along the street.

They trained two fire hoses toward the middle of the canyon and shot a steady stream of water, hoping at least to slow the spreading fire. Large flames grew out of the basin of the canyon and the entire area glowed orange.

"Oh, that's not good,” said Caughlin. “That tells me it got into a pocket of fuel and ... we're gonna have to chase it.

"There's spots like this all over the fire," he said. "There's lots of little headaches. We'll catch it though. We always do. You have to be patient sometimes."

At this house on Ocean View Boulevard, the firefighters succeeded, stopping the flames about 50 to 75 feet from its doors.

As Caughlin continued to drive through the area, he passed the subdivision sign — Paradise Valley — surrounded by flames and popping embers. Nearby, burning leaves sounded like small firecrackers.

It was after 4 a.m., and the canyon, not long before a blazing orange, had now mostly cooled to a somber shade of black. Underneath the trees, though, Caughlin could still see embers glowing.

After sunrise, Caughlin said, he would have the helicopters dump water into the area. He said he already knew there was no way to send firefighters into the canyon.

"It's over, all the hot spots have been dealt with," he said, leaning over the fence and peering into the canyon. "There'll just be new and different ones tomorrow, and the whole cycle will start over again."

 More photos

 Photos: Southland wildfires

 Map: The Station Fire

Related articles:

- Flames from Station fire move within 2 miles of Mt. Wilson
- Schwarzenegger urges residents in path of flames to flee as fire roars in three directions
- Firefighters endure long night in La Crescenta battling flames
- Fires create another bad-air day in parts of Los Angeles
- How are you coping?

-- Raja Abdulrahim

Photo: A Glendale fire truck rushes to Ocean View Boulevard as the Station fire rages.  Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times