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The Station fire

(Update September 13, 2009: Yesterday the two California firefighters, Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones, who died last month fighting the Station fire [largest fire in the history of Los Angeles County] were honored by a large gathering of mourners, which included California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vice-President of the United States, Joe Biden. Officials expected 15,000 uniformed firefighters and as many as 40,000 people. Firefighters are STILL fighting the Station fire, which is 84% contained.)

(Update September 5, 2009: This fire is now 49% contained and moving east in the San Gabriel Wilderness area, after having consumed 154,655 ares, killed two firefighters, and destroyed 76 home. The fire was caused by arson, so the deaths of the two firefighters have resulted in a homicide investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department. Weather changes have assisted firefighters, and full containment of the fire is expected by September 15.)

Fires come and fires go, but the Station fire just keeps on growing. The fire grew to 105,000 acres today from 45,000 acres THIS MORNING!

Evacuations were ordered for the residents of 10,000 homes (100 homes were added this afternoon), and the fire threatens the Mount Wilson Observatory and the 20 radio and TV towers nearby. A strike team is in place, if needed, to protect the observatory. Communications towers on Mount Disappointment are also threatened.

Two firefighters have been killed in fighting the blaze: Captain Tedmund Hall, 47, and Specialist Arnaldo Quinones, 35. Their vehicle rolled down a 700-foot embankment on Sunday. We extend our sympathies to their families. Five people who refused to evacuate were trapped by the fire and then rescued. Three people suffered burns when the Station fire destroyed homes in Big Tujunga Canyon recreation area.

The Station fire has destroyed 18 structures and threatens 10,000 homes, 500 businesses, and 2000 other structures. The fire is burning in an area that has not burned for 60 years and is burning without strong Santa Ana winds. The fire is sheltered in the deep canyons of the Angeles National Forest. Extreme drought conditions over the last 10 years have combined with over two weeks of 100-degree F temperature and single-digit relative humidities to promote the fire.

(Update added September 1, 2009: The Station fire is still only 5% contained. The fire has burned 121,000 acres and 53 homes. The Station fire is expected to pass across Mount Wilson, home to the Wilson Observatory and numerous radion and TV towers, according to the ongoing blog of Mount Wilson Observatory Director Hal McAlister. The Mount Wilson Web server has gone down, most likely “due to a back fire infiltration of a pull box that contains telephone lines” that brought them their T1 Internet service. The last image from the Towercam, taken September 1 at 13:49:06, is here. The news updates have been moved to a different server and are posted here. The blog entries make fascinating reading.)

(Note added September 2, 2009: The Station fire had burned 140, 150 acres, 62 homes, 3 commercial properties, 27 outbuildings, and was only 22% contained, earlier today.)

Other, smaller fires are burning in Monterey County (Gloria fire, Bryson fire) and Placer County (49 fire). Update added September 1, 2009: There are seven other major fires in the state, according to the Calfires site, “including the 49 fire in Placer County, the Morris Incident in Los Angeles County, the Big Meadow fire in Mariposa County, the Gloria Incident in Monterey County, the Cottonwood fire in Riverside County, the Oak Glen III Fire in San Bernardino County, and the Red Rock Incident in Siskiyou County.”)

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

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