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Piece of Mind: Peace and quiet is just fine

August 25, 2010|By Carol Cormaci

A year ago this week La Cañada was humming along pretty much as usual. Daytime temperatures were in the upper 90s. Some of the private schools had already opened their doors for the new school year and the public schools were poised to reopen the following Monday.

It was relatively quiet, just as it is at the tail end of summer every year.

Nonetheless there was some activity to report in late August 2009. Ground was broken for the new site of Flintridge Bookstore. It was a bright moment for the owners of the shop that had been heavily damaged the previous April when a runaway big rig crashed into it — after killing two people and injuring many others. That tragedy was in the back of everyone's minds as the ground-breaking ceremony took place. "This is a giant leap toward restoring a beloved business," said a state official's field rep.

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Also that week Flintridge Prep unveiled its new softball field. In crime news, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reported that a suspect had been arrested for a string of baby-formula thefts from the Vons store in Plaza de La Cañada.

That Wednesday afternoon we were just finishing our work on Thursday's paper. And then, shortly after 3:30, we heard the wail of sirens. Fire engines swept westbound on Foothill past our newspaper office and could be seen heading up the Crest. Turning our eyes toward the Angeles National Forest, we could see a plume of smoke rise above the ridge.

The conflagration soon dubbed the Station fire, Los Angeles County's largest wildfire to date, had just been touched off two miles north of our city limits. But on that lazy afternoon it seemed no one was terribly worried the fire would become a real threat.

We reported in the next day's paper that a blaze had started near mile-marker 29 on Angeles Crest Highway. La Cañada's public safety coordinator, Peter Castro, told our reporter Wednesday evening that the fire was slow-moving. As sunset neared, it had burned 25 acres and was moving away from the city. "We believe [firefighters] have stopped it at the ridge," he told us. He urged local residents to remain calm.

Angeles National Forest district fuels officer Scott Lowden seemed to agree with Castro. "It's going to be nasty, but it sounded like it was holding. There will probably be a couple days of mop-up," Lowden told us.

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