Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Not On Their Watch

I've had my head in the proverbial sand for some time now. We unplugged our TV a while back and I've turned off my car radio so as not to hear about politics because I want to enjoy life.

Today I drove John's car. The radio was on when I turned the key in the ignition and I heard "brush fire near JPL." I forgot my errand, turned west and took Oak Grove Drive above Devil's Gate Dam.

The radio said the flames were moving slowly uphill, away from the Jet Propulsion Lab. I could see that, yet I had to pull over when I saw the smoke. My reaction was physical, a loss of breath, an almost-sob. Look--a 5 acre brush fire is nothing compared to the Station Fire of 2009, but of course that's what I thought of. I've seen flames on these hills before. I've stood on the dam and watched the mountain burn because I couldn't take my eyes away.

I'm not the only one who remembered. 115 firefighters shut this baby down in fewer than ninety minutes. I may have watched an inferno from atop the dam, but they've seen it from within.

19 comments:

dive said...

True heroes!

J.J. in L.A. said...

I heard about that! I'm glad they got it taken care of so quickly. My brother's house burnt down in the Williams fire.

Petrea Burchard said...

They're heroes, all right. Every day.

J.J., I'm sorry your brother lost his house. I'd rather lose my house than know someone died trying to save it. Lives are worth it; a house isn't worth it.

Irina said...

Your fires are in the right hands, under control. Stay safe.

Bellis said...

Yesterday I was high up in the mountains looking at a landscape of black pine trees as far as the eye could see, so this photo fills me with horror.

Is it a coincidence that it started on the day the trail up past JPL reopened? That hillside is accessible from there. Was it accidentally ignited during brush clearance? Would the grass have caught fire if it hadn't been cut down and left to dry like tinder-ready hay? Given the damp and cold weather of the last few days, it sure couldn't have started by itself. Thank goodness for the firefighters.

Petrea Burchard said...

Apparently the cause is still being investigated. It could be anything from picnickers to faulty equipment.

Bellis said...

This just in from Altadena Patch:

"Inspector Johnson of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said that the fire is being seen as accidental, the result of someone's efforts to clear out brush. There was no further information available on who was clearing the brush."

Uh oh.

Trish said...

having grown up in the hills of SoPas, any fire sets me on alert. I've watched 30 foot walls of flame rage behind houses of people I knew. I've watched entire hillsides go up quickly. Worse than a car wreck you can see unfolding, there isn't much one can do about a fire but watch, mouth agape.

Am glad they hopped on the fire quickly and brought it down, as it is technically, not even fire season yet.

Kaitlyn Harmon said...

A loved one had to evacuate his town. 1/3 of it has burned to the ground. I appreciate the men and women working to keep him safe. Prayers be with them.

Speedway said...

About all we have to worry about here are tornadoes. I sincerely think by now all you folks have resigned your yards to have more fire-resistant plants, with fire breaks, etc., with gutters that drain into a barrel so you'll have water for the plants.

Yep, preachin' to the choir, I am, but fire scares the tihs outta me. so just in case --

http://www.cityofvacaville.com/departments/fire/safety_tips/landscaping.php

Speedway said...

I meant reDEsigned...Sorry.

J+P said...

"Fire scares the tahw outta you?"
"Tihs."
"The tahw?"
"The tihs."
"The tihs?"
"Yeah."
"Oh. Taht."

Petrea Burchard said...

Bellis, you have the most wonderful schedule.

Yah, Trish, scary.

Hello, Kaitlin, welcome. I noticed with the Station Fire the firefighters had to let the forest burn while they protected structures and towns. That's their job. They couldn't protect the forest--the fire was too big. It will have to take care of itself. We're grateful to them for taking care of us.

Speedway, I should hope so. But the hills themselves grow chaparral--it's supposed to burn on a regular basis, that's part of its cycle. We just don't want to be growing that in our yards.

Petrea Burchard said...

J, you make me hgual, and it's painful.

Speedway said...

Did you know ---
LOL spelled backwards is still LOL?

TheChieftess said...

So glad it was put out quickly!

J+P said...

OAMLFTOR

Petrea Burchard said...

!aH

Speedway said...

What would DaVinci have thought? Would he have made backwards text messages?

WV: stionse. Maybe, maybe not.