Roughly one year ago a huge fire tore through Southern California burning over 160,000 acres of forestland. When it first started, I took photos of the Station Fire blazing through our local mountains.
A few weeks ago, and almost exactly a year after the Station Fire was extinguished, Penelope and I went for a drive up Angeles Crest Highway. The route we usually take, through Pasadena/La Cañada is still closed, but we were able to access the forest going in the back way.
The bad news is, much of the forest has been burnt to a crisp. The good news is that there is life everywhere and the forest will return eventually. Here are a few photos I shot of the forest coming back to life:
Last night I stood on my balcony in Downtown Los Angeles and saw the Station Fire burning in the hills. I jumped in my car and headed towards JPL. This time instead of robots trying to get out of the sand or high-tech radar systems, I would be photographing fire. A giant fire, making its way down towards NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:
The Station Fire burns out of control separated by a single ridge above the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
After photographing the fire from below JPL, I decided to head up into the hills to shoot a bit closer to the action.
A firefighter waits for the Station Fire to cross the gully separating it from the home he is protecting.
As I mentioned on Tuesday, my Search and Rescue team got called out. I am a member of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Cave Rescue Team, although we don't put out fires we have assisted with evacuations and security during fires in the past, notably the large fires 4 years ago, a year before I joined the team.
Yesterday at about 0400 I hit the road and drove out to the shipping container that is our gear storage shed, where I met Sonny Lawerence. We picked up the Sheriff's vehicle and headed up to the operation center in Twin Peaks where we were briefed and given our mission.
Our assigned task was to patrol the commercial districts of Crestline and Rim Forest looking for looters. If we saw anything odd happening we were instructed to call in to the command post on the 800MHz radio. We were issued Nomex shirts and rubber goggles, along with an 800MHz HT to compliment our 800MHz mobile in the truck.
We began our mission after a eating a county-catered breakfast. I spent the day driving around slowly between the two tiny commercial strips of Crestline and Rim Forest. In Rim Forest we saw a guy with his pickup trucked backed up to a hardware store and another guy inside. We called it in, and as we were waiting for the Sheriff's Deputies to come the guy in the pickup took off. One of the Deputies knew that guy inside who was the owner. Other than that our day was uneventful, although I did get some cool shots of Tanker Helicopters sucking up water from Lake Gregory:
We didn't get too close to the fire, here is a photo of the Grass Valley fire:
And here is a photo of the Slide Fire:
I just got paged. Tomorrow at 0600 I'll be at the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Station. I'm not a firefighter, I do Search and Rescue, so obviously I won't be putting out any fires. I will most likely be doing evacuations. I'll post an update tomorrow when I get back, and I may also be twittering. I'm also going to try and get some photos of the action.
When my lovely wife Penelope and I were staying in Taos, we decided to go rock hounding around the Enchanted Circle scenic byway. We took a 4WD trail up a mountain and took some photos near Angel Fire:
You can see more in my Angel Fire New Mexico gallery.
I took this photo of the fire a couple of hours ago from the top of the 7th Street Bridge in Downtown Los Angeles. It is actually 3 photos 0,+2,-2 EV shot with my Canon EOS 5D through a Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L atop a tripod and combined with Photomatix. You can see another photo on blogging.la.
I ended up falling asleep before these were done uploading, but here is my final set from Saturday:
I was awoken this morning, not by my alarm clock, but by the building's fire alarm. We smelled smoke quite strongly, so after getting dressed feeling if my door was warm, I walked out into the hall and looked out the side window. I could see a massive plume of smoke several blocks down towards the Civic Center. Penelope and I walked downstairs and made our way outside, where we met up with our neighbor Shannon.
We arrived on scene at about 5:00am and the fire was raging up out of the roof of a two story building on the North East corner of 4th and Broadway. I started shooting photos and didn't stop until about 8:00am. The fire is mostly smoke now, and the 10 ladder trucks, 10 pump trucks and what must have been nearly 100 brave firefighters. At one point all 10 of the ladder trucks were spraying into the blaze, 800 gallons per minute each, that's a veritable tidal wave of water.
The building was tightly packed with junk, which means plenty of fuel and the fire just kept on going. Finally at about 7:30 the smoke turned white and started to dissipate. I am guessing that the fire should be out any time now.
Update The photos are
uploading, so far 5 are up out of the 33 that I'm posting all uploaded. You can check out the Major Fire on 4th and Broadway gallery here.
A few more photos after the fold.