Where am I? -- Los Angeles Fires Go Back

October 2003 brings us many fires raging through Southern California, all at once of course.

Here's an up-close view early in the week of the Grand Prix Fire near Lytle Creek just in the foothills near Rancho Cucamonga. This picture was taken by Jason Dunn who got evacuated from his home there. The flames are visible from Chino at night. Smoke and ash are everywhere. The sky has been darkened. The 15 and 210 freeways are sporadically closed.

Here's a link to our local fire site where you can find maps and stuff about our fires.

There is a lot of smoke everywhere. Here's a picture of the smoke as seen in my neighborhood 15 miles away. You can see the dot where the sun is trying to shine through. This photo was taken at 9am Saturday morning. Everything is in an orange haze.

And the ash is falling everywhere. My car needed a wash before but now it needs a scrub. Looks like someone dumped a giant ashtray over the whole area. What a mess.

Later in the day I saw on the internet that San Antonio Heights, north of Upland had received evacuation orders. I called my friend Kevin Deal who lives there. Kevin is a hifi dealer of mine and runs a great boutique hifi shop called Upscale Audio. He told me was kinda thinking of evacuating. I gave him my cell phone number and told him I would be nearby down the road watching a movie at Mountain Ave. and the 10 Fwy with my pals Will and Vieve and to call me if he needed my help. At around 10pm (during the last scene of Kill Bill) he called and we left to run up the road to his house.

I was able to talk my way through the police blockade and proceed up to Kevin's house where I found him and a few friends frantically packing up anything expensive, of which there were many expensive things: scads of tube amplifiers and a garage full of irreplaceable and rare vacuum tubes. This isn't to mention the Isetta and H-D also in the garage. When I arrived, there was just a glow over to the east over the ridge.

Within 15 minutes flames popped up on the ridge above where Kevin lives. It looked like this:

No, that's not snow. That's ash and embers falling from the sky. It sounded like sleet.

We packed and loaded up cars frantically. All tube amplifiers were welcome in my car.

The local newspaper snapped this shot of Kevin loading up his van with rare vacuum tubes as the fire approached.

Within another 15 minutes the flames were marching down the hill closer and closer to Kevin's house.

Appropriately named, Amber, gets little Willie out safely as the flames get closer.

We took several cars down the hill to bring stuff down to his warehouse. Then we went back up in a van to grab one more load of things. By this time the fire had engaged one or two houses down the street. The whole hillside was ablaze and you could feel the heat bigtime.

An action video of the moment EveAnna tells Kevin it's a good time to leave now...

Too bad you can't see this movie.

So then Kevin says goodbye to his house...

Feeling the heat of the fire just about 100 yards away, we sped off to the fire station.

The wind had really picked up by then. Kevin's neighbor was able to get an engine sent to his cul-de-sac and we left knowing at least there was a fire fighting crew from Pasadena there. Last we saw, it appeared the main push of the fire had gone along further to the west. I got home around 1am just in time to celebrate Daylight Savings Time. I was up watching the news and celebrated 1am twice.

Sunday Morning update: Waking up around 8:30am, the Santa Ana winds were blowing fiercely. (Oh and by the way, we do not call them "Devil Winds." Only the news agencies think we do.) I saw on the news the fire had marched along to Claremont and La Verne. Called my bestest friends Will and Vieve who live in Northern Claremont. They see the glow from their backyard. They have a 20 foot tall block wall preventing them from seeing much else other than "glow". They live on the southern edge of the 210 freeway. (Yes you can hear the traffic of this new 210 leg from their backyard but we all just pretend it is the ocean.)

Concerned about Manley Employees: I Called Paul in Arizona and (also appropriately named) Smokey in Alta Loma to see if anybody had heard from Bruce who has a house in Padua. 50 homes went up around there in Palmer Canyon and the historic Padua Theater down the street got nearly torched but saved. Got news that Bruce and Julie are OK. Julie evacuated to her mother's and Bruce is up in Idaho. (The fires haven't yet spread to Idaho.) Several houses are burned on their street but their house is spared (that they are trying to sell.) So much for the real estate bubble in Padua....

I spoke to Kevin. He went back up to his house later in the night and hosed down everything. The fire company protected his street. He has a house to live in. Now it's a matter of getting power restored and getting back on with life.

Looking down the street from Kevin's house, here's the blackened hillside bereft of vegetation the day after the fire. The fire devoured everything it its path.

You can see how close the fire came to Kevin's house from this action shot from the same view.

Close call. Kevin is open for business now. A generator arrived and his computers all hooked up again and back on-line.

All is well with Kevin, however, there were casualties...

This poor rare tube missed the evacuation and met its fate under the tires of Kevin's van. The horror.

2:30pm update: Just talked to Auntie Ann down in Poway, CA. just north-east of San Diego between the Miramar and Ramona area fires. The bigger one is called the Cedar Fire and has consumed 90,000 acres, 100 homes, and several people's lives. This one was caused by a stupid lost hunter who started a signal fire to get un-lost. OK Darwin-Award Winner! We know where you are now! You and that Cub's Fan are going to share the same cell. There's fires on two sides of Auntie Ann's area. While chatting on the phone describing the smoke plumes to me coming from quite some distance away, presto! flames appear on the ridge, several ridges from her house. Well, I told her to take five minutes as an exercise and think about what they would throw into their cars if given 1/2 hour to evacuate. These flames move fast. Best to be prepared.

Here in Chino Hills, 15 miles of dense suburbia, strip malls, roads, and industrial parks away from all the action, the Santa Anas have died down. It is dark and orange again as the smoke camps out over the area. No shadows. Thanks to everyone who has called with concern.

More later as we know it.


Foothill Fire 9/22/2002

The fire started Sunday afternoon. I was at the LA County Fairgrounds. It started not very far from there and spread east towards the Claremont foothills. It showered ash all over everything.

Here's the view of it from the factory roof.

There was another fire down the street from us also in September 2002. A storage yard for Insulfoam went up in flames. Here's some pix of that fire.

Turns out this one at the Insulfoam factory was set by a disgruntled employee who had gotten canned the day before.

It is Los Angeles so it must be Fire Season...