Archive for the ‘L.A. Times’ Category

New questions raised in Station fire aftermath

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From The Los Angeles Times:

Four months after L.A. County Fire Capt. Tedmund Hall and Spc. Arnaldo Quinones died during the massive Station Fire, new details of the tragedy have emerged, along with unsettling questions of how and why the crews were allowed to stay in harm’s way, and whether commanders failed to grasp in time the danger the camp faced.

A Times investigation of the incident found:

–A U.S. Forest Service e-mail written shortly after the deaths addresses the hazards of the fire and refers to the loss of “two people who stayed too long.” The e-mail was obtained by The Times along with other records that show that the camp crews were not formally assigned to the Station operation and thus might have been excluded from the commanders’ broader strategy of defending critical structures in the forest while ensuring the safety of firefighters. The battle against the fire was managed jointly by the county and the U.S. Forest Service.

–The unusual disconnect between the camp and those leading the attack on the biggest fire in county history is evident in dispatch logs that reveal scant contact between the Mt. Gleason crews and the command center. Experts say that violates long-established firefighting protocols that require all agencies to work together on major blazes in the forest, maintaining good communications with each other and sharing information about fire behavior, weather conditions and escape routes.

–The Station fire logs contain no calls to evacuate the camp or any effort to send help as the flames raced toward it. And daily government summaries of the firefight do not list the camp, a cluster of converted military buildings, among the many properties that commanders considered imperiled.

Read Paul Pringle’s full story here.

Written by Melanie Hicken

December 31, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Rep. Schiff to seek inquiry into Station fire response

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From the L.A. Times

A local House member says he will ask Congress to launch an inquiry next month into the U.S. Forest Service’s response to the Station fire, including a decision to withhold water-dropping aircraft during the critical second day of the blaze.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) made the announcement after The Times reported Monday that records contradict the Forest Service’s position that steep terrain prevented the agency from using helicopters and tanker planes to attack the fire in the hours before it began raging out of control.

“Congress really ought to investigate and determine if the right calls were made,” Schiff said. “I hope that we can have an oversight hearing and get to the bottom of this.”

Full article.

Written by Times Community News

December 22, 2009 at 9:38 am

Posted in L.A. Times

Late actress was Burbank resident, student

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Brittany Murphy is photographed by The Times in 2001, the year she appeared in the Michael Douglas thriller "Don't Say a Word." (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Brittany Murphy, who died Sunday at the age of 32, moved to Burbank from Atlanta with her mother when she was 13, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times where, according to IMDB, she landed her first television role on the show 1990s television series “Blossom,” starring opposite Joey Lawrence and Melissa Manchester.

The actress died in the home she shared with her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack.

The actress also attended John Burroughs High School, where she briefly attended but did not graduate, according to IMBD, and San Fernando Valley Professional School, according to the school’s alumni page.

The cause of death is under investigation, The Times reported Sunday, and an autopsy is planned for Tuesday, a coroner’s official said. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Written by Michael J. Arvizu

December 20, 2009 at 11:42 pm

Best Christmas lights in SoCal

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Credit: Creative Commons

From Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena to the DWP Holiday Light Festival at Griffith Park, there are some spectacular viewing options for those who love Christmas decorations.

To find the most festive neighborhoods in Southern California, or to suggest one or two of your own, check out this post on L.A. Now.

Written by Megan O'Neil

December 16, 2009 at 5:49 pm

40 homes evacuated as rain bears down on Station fire burn areas

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From the L.A. Times

At least 40 homes are being evacuated tonight in the La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta and Big Tujunga Canyon areas of the San Gabriel Mountains as heavy rain continues to bear down on Southern California, stranding motorists, prompting flash flood warnings and sending minor mud and debris flows onto foothill roads.

Earlier this evening, the occupants of 90 vehicles were stranded on the Angeles Crest Highway because of heavy mud, and about 50 of them took temporary refuge inside a mountain restaurant. They and their vehicles were towed down about 6:30 p.m. by Angeles National Forest Service trucks, said Mike Noxin, an assistant manager at Newcomb’s Ranch restaurant, 27 miles up Angeles Crest Highway from La Cañada Flintridge.

“Everybody was just looking to get down off the mountain,” said Noxin, who took in the stranded motorists.

The highway had been closed earlier because of rain, but some motorists made it through just before mud descended from the wildfire-denuded mountains, making stretches of the highway impassable.

“We are in process of completely sealing it off,” Capt. Frank Reynoso of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said earlier today. Eighty-five firefighters were dispatched to the stuck vehicles while law enforcement officials directed traffic away from the area, Reynoso said.

Meantime, Rich Phelps of the U.S. Forest Service said at least 40 homes in the Station fire burn area were being evacuated. It was unclear whether those evacuations were voluntary or ordered.

[Updated at 7:44 p.m.: A spokesman for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said the evacuations, which cover 44 homes in La Cañada Flintridge and La Crescenta, are voluntary.

Read here for more

Written by Times Community News

December 12, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Third storm expected this afternoon; flash flood watch begins at 3 p.m.

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From the Los Angeles Times:

After a brief respite from the rain at midday today, the week’s third storm is expected arrive later this afternoon and dump more than 3 inches of rain by Sunday morning, forecasters said. The powerful system is also expected to bring gusty winds and heavy snow to the mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch beginning at 3 p.m. today for recent burn areas in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

At its peak, rainfall is expected to reach 1 inch per hour on south-facing foothills and possibly create flash floods or debris flows on fire-scarred slopes. Up to 18 inches of snow at higher elevations, winds of 30 mph and thunderstorms are also possible.

Between Thursday and 10 a.m. today, downtown Los Angeles had received nearly 1 inch of rain. Valley, mountain and foothill areas were doused with 1 to 3 inches.

Major canyon roads through the burn areas remained closed. They include Angeles Forest Highway, and Big Tujunga Canyon and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon roads.

Crews worked through the day to clear debris basins in anticipation of heavier rain tonight.

There has been no major flooding or mudslides. Firefighters have responded to numerous calls for minor rock slides and mudslides across Los Angeles, including Topanga Canyon and Sylmar. One home near the Hollywood Bowl has been evacuated.

“If we do have some rescues or injuries, we’ll be all over it,” said Los Angeles city fire spokesman Brian Humphrey. “But so far we’ve been standing by to assist our allied offices.”

Forecasters say residents in La Cañada Flintridge, Sylmar, La Crescenta and surrounding foothill communities should remain vigilant. Officials have erected K-rails and lined streets with sandbags in neighborhoods near the Station fire burn area in hopes of preventing slides.

This latest storm is expected to move out of the area quickly and be replaced by dry and warmer conditions next week.

Nearly 5,000 utility customers throughout Los Angeles were without power this morning, with outages reported in Venice, West L.A., Brentwood and Toluca Lake.

Click here for the full story.

Written by Times Community News

December 12, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Posted in L.A. Times

Flood advisory canceled; more rain expected tonight

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From the Los Angeles Times:

The National Weather Service has canceled its flood advisory for Los Angeles County as the latest Doppler radar images show that shower activity across the region has decreased in intensity.

Light showers will continue throughout the afternoon, and more significant rainfall is expected this evening.

Meanwhile, major canyon roads through the burn areas will remain closed today, according to the Los Angeles County Public Works Department.

Closures include Angeles Forest Highway, Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road.

Crews are working through the day to clear debris basins in anticipation of heavier rain tonight.

There has been no major flooding or mudslides, but forecasters say residents in La Cañada Flintridge, Sylmar, La Crescenta and surrounding foothill communities should remain vigilant as the storms move through the region.

Officials have erected K-rails and lined streets with sandbags in neighborhoods near the Station fire burn area in hopes of preventing any damage to homes. A federal report this year said those areas were at extreme risk of mudslides in the event of heavy, sustained rains.

— Ruben Vives

Sources from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works:

Subscribe to mudflow alerts.

Read the latest mudflow forecast.

Look at the latest precipitation map.

Written by Times Community News

December 12, 2009 at 11:14 am

Posted in L.A. Times