Monday, April 28, 2008

Sierra Madre Fire

For those who don't live around here: it smells like a campfire. The smoke permeates everything (the smell woke me this morning). The sky is white with it. Little flakes of ash float in the air like snow.

In the mountains above Sierra Madre, the pretty, Mayberry-esque community bordering Pasadena to the east, firefighters battle a brush fire that began Saturday. It still burns this morning. Over 1,000 people have evacuated their homes.

Yesterday in downtown Sierra Madre, people stood on the sidewalks and pointed toward the hills. Every conversation was about the fires. Command central was the Sierra Madre Recreation Center, its parking lot filled with vehicles from every surrounding fire department you could think of, including Pasadena's. A few firemen took a break at one end of the lot. At the other end, the news media set up their cameras to get the best views.

In this photo, a couple watches a fixed-wing air tanker drop orange flame retardant on the fire above their neighborhood. Across the street from the Recreation Center was this sign:

21 comments:

Miss Havisham said...

Sweet sign.

from cali said...

I don't know how those guys do what they do, but thank God they do it! Thank you, indeed.

Mary Helen said...

Very scary...My son works for DNR and will fight a few fires every year.

Petrea said...

Yeah, I don't know what we'd do around here without those guys.

Lovely photos on your blog, Mary Helen. Thanks for coming by and commenting. What's DNR?

Stef said...

Yes very scary, we woke in the middle of the night with strong smell of smoke, and this morning ashes everywhereon our cars, in the garden, our dog couldn't sleep last night, she probably smelt the danger.

Tanya said...

We've heard a little about this fire on the news here, or at least online news.
I grew up with the smell of those wildfires, I know it well. We had a pool and would end up with so much ash in it.
My family is still in San Diego.
Hope they get the fires contained soon!

Jim said...

stay safe

Petrea said...

Stef, this fire is the largest one we've had so close to us in a while. There was the small one in Altadena last August. It's a very strange feeling around here.

Thanks, Tanya, we hope so, too. It doesn't look like the evacuees will get to go home tonight.

My sister e-mailed me: DNR is Department of Natural Resources.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Jim. We're far enough downhill that the fire would have to cross a lot of asphalt to find us. But I think I'll forego hiking in the mountains for a while.

Keith said...

It has been a long time since we've had a local fire this size. I haven't missed them. Let's hope they get it under control before it heads much farther into Pasadena.

Katie said...

Thanks for the updates. You make a fine investigative journalist/photographer! Hope they get the fire under control soon and that damage is minimal. What a tough job to be a firefighter in California!

Petrea said...

Hi Keith, I understand that it's natural for brush to burn every 30-40 years, and that it's been over 40 yrs since that particular area has burned. Scary to be close to it, though. Pasadena/Sierra Madre is an arbitrary border. We're all under the smoke. I'm sorry for the folks who can't go home, and grateful to the Red Cross for being there to help them.

Thank you, Katie. And when you think about it, a firefighter's job is tough no matter where you are. Those men and women are brave, dedicated and maybe a little crazy. I mean that in a good way.

lynn said...

Yes this is why i'm here - i just saw it on the news and was worried about you. I do hope you're okay Petrea. Please keep us up to date with your posts.

Knoxville Girl said...

I hope they get the fire under control and everyone stays safe.

Katie said...

You're right Petrea, being a firefighter anywhere is a tough job! I'm willing to pay my taxes because one thing it funds is firefighters.

FYI, I found an old Pasadena postcard from the 60s, which features the Sierra Madres mountains, so I just posted it on my blog. Hope it's ok that I linked to your blog so people could get more info from someone who lives in the area!

Anonymous said...

It's an amazing photograph; beautiful and scary at the same time. Hope those wonderful firefighters get the fire under control soon. Stay safe.

Katie's Mom

Petrea said...

Thanks, Lynn, will do.

Knoxville Girl, I love your plywood tunnel shot.

Katie, thanks for linking to me. I always love your post cards!

Thank you, Katie's mom.

An article I read said something about "the first fire of the season." But I think that's way off. The "season" is usually in the fall. It seems too dry too early.

Rose said...

Very moving post today Petrea...
I love your writing just as much as your pictures... nice
;)

Petrea said...

Thank you very much, Rose, I really appreciate that.

Bernie K. said...

This is from the Pasadena Star-News of 4/29:

"Bill Patzert of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La CaƱada Flintridge said the fire season actually begins in the fall as the Santa Ana winds arrive in the Southland.

"'If you get a wet winter and a dry summer, the fire season can go into late winter and early spring,' Patzert said. 'So this is actually the end of the 2007-08 fire season.'

"And the next season, slated to begin this fall, is looking to be a whopper -- considering what is expected to be a particularly hot, dry summer …

"He believes Sierra Madre will be better protected from the upcoming fire season than surrounding foothill communities -- precisely because of this week's fire, which has consumed much of the area's high fuel load.

"'By this time next week, citizens in Sierra Madre will be a lot safer than they were two weeks ago, even though they don't know it,' said Patzert."

Petrea said...

Thanks for that, Bernie. I think that makes me correct.