Friday, August 28, 2009

Once Again, Southern California is Ablaze

We spent much of tonight watching the mountains above us, several miles away (thankfully), as they quickly became engulfed in flames. The so-called "Station" fire is inching closer to homes in La Cañada Flintridge, where at least 500 houses have already been evacuated.

Most threatened so far in the Station fire was the Angeles Crest Ranger Station, a familiar sight to anyone driving up the Angeles Crest Highway (the 2) into the mountains.

Above, you could already see the flames at around 7 p.m.; as it got darker, the flames spread and started heading down the mountain. The Blogger Preschooler, of course, is alternately fascinated and freaked out; but again, we're several miles away and in no danger.

Meanwhile, local L.A. TV stations began breaking into programming later in primetime, particularly after another fire -- this one in Rancho Palos Verde -- quickly grew out of control.

KCAL/9, which normally runs primetime news, and KTTV/11 were the first to offer wall-to-wall coverage, with others gradually following. KCAL continued breaking for commercials early on, which led to one awkward moment, when coverage of the fire cut to an ad for El Pollo Loco -- featuring an illustration of big flames. (To signify the flame-broiled chicken, of course.) On KTLA, anchors were talking when suddenly the automated system cut to a promo for "90210" as Leila Feinstein was in mid-sentence; someone realized the error and switched it back. A map on KTLA also contained a few spelling errors -- it's "Wilmington," not "Wilminton."

KNBC and KABC continued covering the fires even after their normal late news sign-off time at 11:35, pre-empting "Tonight Show" and "Nightline," respectively. (KNBC dropped out by 11:55, followed by KABC at 12:06, however.) KCAL also continued coverage, which allowed sister station KCBS to return to normal programming ("Late Show"). KTLA and KTTV had also returned to regular programming by 11:30.

Here's more from the L.A. Times:

At least 1,700 firefighters were battling fires in Portuguese Bend on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, in Hemet, just north of La Cañada Flintridge and above Azusa. In each case, the fires were fueled by dense, dry vegetation and record high temperatures, according to authorities.

In the Portuguese Bend area, the fast-moving fire charred at least 80 acres, knocked out power and prompted an unspecified number of evacuations, beginning in at least three neighborhoods: on Portuguese Bend Road, Amber Sky Drive and Crest Road, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

In La Cañada Flintridge, in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, evacuations of about 500 homes were ordered around 10 p.m. in the neighborhoods along Vista del Valle Road, and an evacuation center was set up at Crescenta Valley High School.

According to KABC/7, it's gonna be even hotter tomorrow: 104 degrees in La Canada Flintridge. Yikes.

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