Residents warned of fire risk

Three fires blazed through Angeles National Forest and La Tuna Canyon on Friday.

July 24, 2008|By Mary O’Keefe

Friday was a busy day for area firefighters. The morning began with a small brush fire in the Angeles National Forest in the Lukins Canyon area.

According to Stanton Florea, fire information officer for the U.S. Forest Service, the incident appeared to begin as a vehicle fire that spread to the brush. Angeles National Forest Fire responded at 8:59 a.m.

Los Angeles County Fire Department also responded but was canceled soon after the call. The fire was contained quickly.

County, Angeles National Forest fire crews and Pasadena Fire Department responded to another fire above the top of Hastings Ranch Drive around 3 p.m. the same day.


The brush fire burned a reported five acres before firefighters were able to get it under control.

Just over two hours later another fire broke out along La Tuna Canyon west of La Cañada. Los Angeles city, county, Glendale, Burbank and Angeles National Forest fire personnel responded to the fire in the extremely rugged and steep terrain.

L.A. City Fire was the department in command because the area is within Los Angeles city boundaries.

“We had 45 engines, five helicopters, three water tenders, six camp crews and two [bull]dozers respond,” said Assistant Chief Tim Manning of L.A. City Fire Department.

According to Manning, the La Tuna Canyon fire was 55% contained around 7:30 p.m.

“Crews will stay here throughout the night,” Manning said.

The next day, helicopters continued their water drops in the area and camp crews were clearing the burned vegetation.

The hills still blackened by the fire posed another danger — that of falling rocks. Firefighters kept a watchful eye to stop motorists as small boulders rolled onto the road.

Chief Joe Foley said the water drops would continue, as fire crews made certain all hot spots were contained.

“The [crews] will cut the vegetation down to the bare Earth,” Foley said.

By the time the fire was contained at 10 a.m. on Saturday it had burned 15 acres. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation but Foley said that it was considered a suspicious fire.

Chief Michael Singer of the Los Angeles County Fire Department Station 82 said area residents need to stay alert during the hot, dry season.

Singer cautions locals to be careful when they are outside, camping or hiking in areas such as the Angeles National Forest.

“People need to be mindful of anything that could spark or ignite the brush,” he said, “like a car, campfire, barbecue or wood burning stove while camping. And any smoking material.”

Singer said he was recently driving in Santa Clarita in his department “red” car and the driver in front of him pitched a cigarette out the window. That act of throwing a single cigarette on pavement may not seem like much but wind can easily blow it into vegetation.

That one thoughtless act could then begin a brush fire throughout the area.

“People aren’t thinking,” he said.

He said mistakes can have devastating consequences.

Singer said that people also need to be mindful of the combustible materials stored — or growing — around the home.

“The number one thing you can do to protect your home is brush clearance,” Singer said.

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