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article imageNo Containment in Sight for Southern California Wild Fires Special

By Sandy Sand     Aug 31, 2009 in Environment
At six o’clock this morning there was a vast black cloud with wispy inky fingers reaching for the sky hanging over the mountains to the east of Los Angeles.
That could have been an atmospheric trick played by the rising sun, because by 7:30 a.m. it turned into a dismal gray reflecting the mood of the city that’s been living under a fire cloud for days.
Every morning, evening and untold times during the day the story has been the same as I’ve gone to my upper story windows that look out eastward over the San Fernando Valley, giving me a direct view of the mushroom clouds of smoke reaching hundreds of feet in the air out of the gray pall of smoke.
The view changes minute by minute, hour by hour. At night flickering glows of red flames are unmistakable, and I live between 30 and 60 miles from the Station Fire burning above the La Canada-Flintridge area, depending on exactly where it’s burning. (La Canada in not pronounced La Canada like the country of Canada, but La Can-yada.)
It’s fire season in Southern California. Wild fires have been burning since Wed. Aug. 28, and authorities just revised their estimate of full containment from Tues. Sept. 8 to Tues. Sept. 15, something that has never happened before.
For two days it was contained to between 2,000 and 7,000 acres when it suddenly exploded four-fold to 28,000 acres and last night it tripled to 85,000 acres and now stands at more than 100,000 acres.
To now, it hasn’t been the usual wind-driven fire, and fire officials have described it as a “topography/low humidity- (ofttimes in single digits) driven fire.
This morning fire officials got the bad new from the U.S. Weather Service that winds are expected to kick up tonight and officials said they are preparing for the worst case scenario. Their best hope is that the wind will blow in from the west and blow the fire back on itself, but they aren’t expecting that to occur.
A more likely scenario is that they will blow in from the east or northeast, driving the fire to the west or southwest, and the heavily populated areas of Pasadena, Glendale, Sylmar, Santa Clarita, Sunland, Tujunga and more.
If this should occur my involvement could be more than voyeurism through my windows and watching TV, because if it jumps to the hills behind Sylmar it can easily follow the line of hills in the Santa Suzanna Mountains that separate the San Fernando Valley from the Simi Valley.
That’s the usual modus operandi of fires to the north of where I live. They zip through a well-established path along the foot of the mountain and have been know to travel miles through passes and canyons to Malibu Canyon and out to the coast.
Again, this morning just as Saturday morning, the early morning brought in wafts smoke-filled air that lasted for three hours before there was a shift.
A quick call to Nathan Baker, producer of McIntyre in the Morning, KABC radio, confirmed that what I was smelling was from the Station Fire and not a new fire in the West San Fernando Valley, nor were the earlier reports of the scent of smoke 20 mile farther to the northwest in Thousand Oaks.
Baker said there were reports, that depending on atmospheric conditions, people in Las Vegas -- 450 miles away -- have been smelling the smoke.
Firefighters have had to prioritize their firefighting protecting homes and the all-important Mt. Wilson, home to transmitters for police and fire communications, 25 radio stations, 22 television stations and the world-famous Mt. Wilson Observatory.
Currently:
100,000 plus acres burned, an area of more than 35-square-miles
2 L.A. County firefighters killed when their vehicle went over a mountain cliff
3 residents injured
2 dozen homes and several out-buildings burned
The Super Scooper plane borrowed from Canade every year arrived early and was put into service today
Conditions change faster than I can possibly post updates, therefore I suggest anyone who wants updates or to follow the path of the fire, every local TV station is streaming live (abc7.com; nbcla.com; kcal9.com) on the Internet as is my choice of KABC Radio, or you can check out latimes.com, pasadenastarnews.com or dailynews.com.
More about Fire, Southern california, Containment
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