Thursday, August 27, 2009


Yesterday when the radio announcer said there was a brush fire burning "in the hills above JPL," I lost a breath. I walk Boz in the wild lands near the Jet Propulsion lab.

Losing a breath is appropriate. Pasadena is once again situated between two brush fires, one in Glendora (the Morris Fire) and one above La Canada Flintridge (the Station Fire). It smells like a camp fire around here. If we didn't have to breathe it in and out all day I'd almost call it pleasant.
Today I went to the Devil's Gate Dam to get a photo of the fire over La Canada Flintridge. Readers of Pasadena Daily Photo might remember another glimpse of the mountain here. That's the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) on the lower right, obviously not threatened by the fire. The winds are moving in the opposite direction. Good news, sorta. That smoke is going away from us but the Glendora smoke is heading here as I type.

I drove over to La Canada Flintridge and up into the hills to get a better look. (The air is worse over there.) The best place I could find in the time I had was on a neighborhood street below the hilltop, under some wires that were buzzing and crackling. I don't know if it had anything to do with the fire. Maybe, maybe not. I could also hear the water-dropping aircraft but I couldn't always see them.

Wait. Let's zoom in on that shot. You still might have to click on it to see.
Sure enough. A helicopter. Seems awfully small to be fighting such a big battle.

The aircraft left to get more water. While they were gone the smoke shifted and billowed. It's beautiful, really. It was hard to tear myself away--from a safe distance, that is.

John took this one on the way home from work. The view is from a corner a little less than a mile from our house. The fire is, I would guess, a good twenty miles away.
Bless those firemen. They are crazy and brave.

Update: the Station Fire subsequently grew to historic proportions and I continued to blog about it on Pasadena Daily Photo.


J+P said...

I took'n thet!

Bellis said...

After I saw your photos, I went to Devil's Gate dam at 7 pm to see for myself. The flames have crested the ridgeline, occasionally shooting high into the air as a large tree ignites. Cars were stopping on the side of the freeway to watch the spectacle. The fire now looks worryingly close to some of the higher houses in La Canada - fingers crossed the it doesn't move toward them overnight.

AmyR said...

The helicopter is so tiny - that's some perspective for you. I've noticed the smoke and smell on my drive home this week...

Crazy and brave indeed.

Petrea said...

J tooken that.

Bellis, you tempt me to go look tonight, but it's late. I've just finished my PDP post and I feel like I've been taking pictures and posting all day. (Not that I mind.)

Amy--no kidding. It's a case for running the AC 24/7, thought that probably does the atmosphere no good.

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

The last shot must've been tooken at the same time I was looken from over at El Molino and Maple. ugh.

Petrea said...

Probably around 6:30, Miss H.

I just saw a Retweet from Caltech Girl of a PSN article saying that the fire is out of control and mandatory evacuations are in effect for parts of LCF. Worried about our friends and neighbors there. I'm tempted to go see what I can see but know it's best to stay out of the way. I might go back to the dam with the new Canon and see if I can get some shots.

Dina said...

Oi, you guys be careful!

Teri said...

Hi Petrea, hope you don't mind me popping over to your blog! Nice by the way! I found you over at Italo's! Oddly, your post on the fire caught my attention... my poor brother, wife and dog were evacuated for days. They are up in La Crescenta in the hills. I grew up there... graduated from LCHS!!! Such a small world even on the World Wide Web! Those Firemen have always been amazing through all the fires!!! We used to bring them food during the Starlight crest ones years back! Thank you for the post!

Petrea said...

Hi Teri,
Glad to have you! Small world indeed. I hope your brother and his family are doing okay and are safely back in their home.

I did only one post on the fire here, before we knew it was going to be a big one. I blog daily at http://pasadenadailyphoto.blogspot.comand posted a lot about the fire there as it grew. It sure became a big deal.

Nice to meet you through Italo! He's what I call an "internet find."

Galaxy6139 said...

God bless them! Such terrible fire! Hope there's no body hurt in this fire!

Petrea said...

Hi Galaxy 6139, this brush fire quickly grew to be the historic Station Fire, which you can read more about here:

I ended up writing more about it on my other blog, at

The Station Fire is still burning today, at 93% containment. It has burned over 250 square miles, destroyed more than 60 structures (including homes), and killed two firemen. The fire was determined to be arson, so their deaths are considered homicides.

Your kind words are well said. I met some firemen who had been working up in the mountains and they really do care that we are thinking of them.