THE STATION FIRE 2009 - LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CA

California has been the home to a very common natural disaster than can occur more than once in one year. This natural disaster is wildfires; these wild fires have resulted in large destruction. Wildfires can be an extremely costly natural disaster. Wildfires often evoke fear in many of the civilians and a sense of duty for the firefighters. The quote below is from Chief Deputy of the Los Angeles County Fire Department John B. Tripp, regarding this particular natural disaster. “The perfect fire storm in that the vegetation (fuel) was at such extreme conditions (flammability due to drought), along with the weather being critical (record temperatures and low humidity), along with the amount of vegetation (tonnage of fuel per acre due to no recorded fires in some of the burn areas) and the inaccessibility led to two days of record setting fire growth. Due to these factors, the Station Fire became the fastest spreading fire in the history of the Angeles National Forest and the largest fire in the history of Los Angeles County. This is noteworthy, as LA County has a long history of large wildland fires.
The location of the forest. The fact that it is located next to the 2nd largest metropolitan area in the US, and the size of the fire area, now the threat of severe mudslides (perhaps the worst in history) may occur this winter. Especially due to the fact an El Nino winter has been predicted.
The scrutiny of the fire has led to the identification of different policies between local government and the Federal government. These issues have led to actions needed at the federal level that have not been addressed in the past. Brush clearance guidelines on Federal land and night operations of helicopters.” –John B Tripp LACOFD


INCIDENT AND DAMAGES:
On August 26, 2009 at 1520 hours The Station Fire,which was arson, began in the Los Angeles National Forest.
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Station Fire at Night from a Distance

The fire could have been contained in the first few hours that it started. I was a native of La Canada at the time of the fires, and was familiar with some of the rangers that man the ranger "station" on the 2 highway that the fire was named for. A source close to the LA county fire department said that it became clear that there was a disagreement between two local authorities about who had the authority to manage the fire when it initially started. Unaware that their delayed actions would cause the fire to become the beast it would, two agencies squandered a vital opportunity to stop this disaster. The beginning of the fire started in the city of La Canada along highway two. Important factors that lead to the Station Fire was the weather. The state of California has had its third consecutive year of drought. The morning of the fire there was a red flag warning that was issued for the Los Angeles area. The weather on this August day was described as single digit humidity, dry fuels, and high temperatures. The fire spread very quickly because of the dense mature brush that it was burning through. The fire was also was run by the topography of the location. The fire started the first couple of days running up the hill and then later changed directions and spread mostly east and west. Towards the end of the fire the flames then burned back up hill. The first two days the fire the acreage had become 5,205 with 0% containment.(LACOFD) At this time in the firefight there were 637 personal that were assigned to this incident. However by the third day the fire became increasing large. The acreage climbed to a whopping 36,977.(LACOFD)

This jump made the fight very hard to battle. At this time of the fire the cost had already reached almost 1.5 million dollars.(LACOFD) In just one day the fire almost tripled in size reaching 94,137 acres and the cost became around 8 million dollars.(LACOFD) This was an even more drastic increase then before, this really set the tone for a very large disaster. After about two weeks of an intense blaze the fire had burned 160,557 acres, and the blaze was only 77% contained. (LACOFD) The fire fully contained around September 25,2009, leaving the burn acreage at approximately 160,557 acres. (LACOFD) During the battle of fir fight a total of 5 million gallons of water and around 400,000 gallons of retardant was dropped(LACOFD). At the peak of the fire the fire personal reached 5,2000 battling this disaster(LACOFD). The largest loss of this blaze was the death of two Los Angeles County Firefighters.

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In Loving Memory Of Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones


Some other great devastating losses were the 87 homes and cabins that were destroyed. Along with these houses that burned a fir camp was also destroyed completely. This fire camp were the inmate fire crews were stationed. Along with these inmates there were correctional officers and firemen. The two firefighters that lost their lives worked at this camp, camp 16. The success story of the firefight was that 10,00 structures were in danger and saved. The total cost of this disaster reached around $10.7 million dollars(LACOFD). This fire had become the largest fire ever in the history of Los Angeles County.
The Los Angeles County fire department had a very focused planned to control the fire. They set up a camp for the command center and this is where all the plans and strategy was set for the fire. The main goal was to protect lives and property. They tried to do this by initiating evacuations and cutting fire suppressing lines. This is the way to battle the fire from the ground and then they also would rely on air support to slow the fire down. Governor Schwarzenegger declared the Station Fire a state of emergency. This fire has left great damage and has potential for more damage even after the flames are out. The fire left two families with out tier fathers,more families without their homes, and so many with fear and hurt. The flames might be out but their is still great risk for homeowners in these burn areas. The burn areas are now at risk for another natural disaster.

Future Risks

The burn areas are now at risk for another potential natural disaster. To due the wipe out of all the vegetation from the wildfire there is now a high risk for mudslides. Mudslides can occur when added water is out on to the ground surface. The vegetation is so important because vegetation give the slop stability. Also the plants and tress help absorb and excess water with their roots and catch water with their leaves, so they are essential to prevent mudslides. Burnt plant material can also create a hydrophobic layer that reduces the deep infiltration of water, increasing surface flow. The USGS recently put out a report regarding the risk and potential hazards of rain in the station fire burn areas. They used past data of past debris flows and past burn areas. They found that in burn areas a debris flow can be triggered by hard short periods of rain, or soft and long periods of rain. This means any amount of rain could be dangerous. Other factors that increase mudslides are the steepness of the hill, the geography that produces landslides, and the intensity of burning. This area is familiar with fires, but the entire mountain front is the largest area of land that has been burnt. They are working with residents, firemen, and many government officials to work on plans for a future disasters. The Coordinated Agency Recovery Effort ,CARE, is the team that is working to assets and prevent disaster for the burn areas when the rain falls. They also put out a report that states that there is an 80% of debris flows. The report stated that life and structures are there greatest concern and priority. They are working to keep communication open and help put plans in place to evacuate residents in a timely manner.

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Sources
"Station Fire ." Station Fire Report . 1. 1. Los Angeles COunty Fire Department, 2009. Print.

"Angry Fire roars across 100,000 California Acres." CNN. 29 Aug 2009. CNN, Web. 4 Nov 2009. <http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/08/31/california.wildfires/index.html>.

"California Inferno Timelapse. Sunset to night. Station Fire at La Canada.." You Tube. Web. 5 Nov 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwUhxDpt3nk&feature=related>.

Kimbell, Suzette. "Station Fire Mud and Debris Flow Report." 1. USGS, 2009. Print.

"Station Fire Aftermath and Mudslide Risk | 89.3 KPCC." Home | 89.3 KPCC. Web. 10 Mar. 2010. <http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2009/10/07/station-fire-aftermath-and-mudslide-risk/>.

"Station Fire Burn Area Report." USDA Forest service 1. (2009): 1-22. Web. 1 Dec 2009. <http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles/station/BAER/2500-8%20BAER%20Assessment%20Report_Station%20BAER_Public%20Release_10.16.2009.pdf>.