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My City of Ruins: Springsteen Sings to New Jersey, 10/31/2012

November 2nd, 2012 by Celeste Fremon

This is a funky recording bootlegged from the October 31, 2012, Springsteen concert in Rochester, NY, during which The Boss sang My City of Ruins.
The video jiggles, cuts off in the middle, and features a nearby woman fan warbling along with the Boss. But it’s the only recording that anyone’s been able to find of this central moment in the bittersweet concert in which Springsteen referenced the storm repeatedly, as he also did in the concert on November 1, at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State University, where song after song reportedly had laced through it echoes of the flooding and damage. When he launched into the chorus of his song, Atlantic City

Well now, everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City

….there was evidently widespread swiping of eyes in the audience.

Thus it seemed right to put up the bootleg, in all its messiness, with our heartfelt wishes for safety, recovery and healing for our friends on the east coast who have been so drastically affected by Sandy.

Here’s some of what Bruce said in Rochester:

We wish you a happy Halloween, but we are a rock ‘n’ roll band from the Jersey Shore, and tonight we carry a lot of sadness in our hearts. This was originally a song about my adopted hometown struggling to get on its feet — it struggled for 25 years, a quarter century, while we waited and watched for Asbury to come back. And we are very proud to say over the past decade, it has risen up and flourished in a way I wasn’t ever sure I’d see in my lifetime. And it will do so again…..

We’re a band that you can’t separate from the Jersey shore. We’re still basically a glorified bar band… at your service! So we’re gonna do this tonight from our hometown to your hometown. We’ll send this out to all the people working down there: the police officers, the firemen, and also to the Governor, who has done such a hard job this past week…..”

Springsteen will be among the headliners for a storm recovery fundraiser in the form of an NBC telethon to air Friday night (tonight), 8-9 pm.

(By the way, here’s a link to the full song as played in Barcelona during happier times.)

Posted in Natural Disasters, Springsteen | No Comments »

Sunday Boating in Topanga: “Dude, Are We, Like, Floating?”

March 22nd, 2011 by Celeste Fremon

The above depicts part of why those of us living in Topanga found the drive home yesterday evening
a bit more interesting and eventful than usual.

I estimate that I came up Topanga about 30 minutes after this video was shot,
by which time it was getting dark, the water was deeper, and the rain was far more…energetic.

There was no question that we had to turn around, SUV or no SUV. Some of us tried to use Old Topanga Canyon as a alternate route—our intention to take Old Canyon to the SF valley, hoping to then come back up Topanga Canyon from the north. But about a mile or two into our new route, we ran into a fallen tree that blocked both lanes.

What to do? The only other option was a retreat back through Old Canyon then take Topanga back down to Pacific Coast Highway and perhaps to the 10, then the 405 to the 101. But this seemed unwise, as lower Topanga was getting scarily close to impassable when I’d come up the canyon an hour earlier. After about 45 minutes of collective consternation as to what possible route we could use to get to our respective houses, one of my fellow Topangans remembered he had a chainsaw in the back of his vehicle. Urged on by neighborly cheering, he put the thing to good use and 15 minutes later still we were able to get through.

In any case, the video is worth watching if—for no other reason— for the Dude-oriented narration.

Posted in Life in general, Natural Disasters | No Comments »

Saluting Monday’s New Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers Because…..

March 15th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon

the ever worsening news about Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. (The nuclear plant situation is being live-blogged by the WaPo’s Elizabeth Flock. Also, try following @norishikata on Twitter.)

The new inductees were Tom Waits, Dr. John, Darlene Love, Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond and Leon Russell—all wonderful artists.

But since Tom Waits and Dr. John are 2 among the 10 whose music I would need with me on a desert island or at the end of the world, it is their videos I’ve posted.

Waites put it well when Neil Young inducted him: “They say I’m difficult and I have no hits. And they say that like it’s a BAD thing!”

Posted in American artists, American voices, Natural Disasters | 3 Comments »

Thinking of Japan, the Blocked California Budget and More

March 15th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


The frightening news out of Japan cannot help but hold our attention, as heroic engineers at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station continue to try to save the plant’s crippled nuclear reactors from meltdown.

But, in addition to the devastating TV news reports, please do yourself a favor and read Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s essay on her memories and reflections as the terrifying and heartbreaking news from Japan continues to unfold. It will be in Tuesday’s New York Times. Here is how it opens:

ON Aug. 9, 1945, my great-uncle was out fishing in the Pacific, far enough away from Nagasaki, Japan, that he missed the immediate impact of the atomic bomb dropped by the Americans that day. My great-aunt was in their new house outside Nagasaki; the entire family had only a few days earlier fled the city because my great-uncle feared a repeat of the bombing of Hiroshima.

I heard this story many times during my childhood. Back then, it made me feel that my great-uncle was a clever man. As an adult, I realized he was also very lucky, because cleverness alone cannot keep you safe.

For 36 hours after the earthquake and tsunami that eviscerated the east coast of Japan on Friday, I was unable to get any word from my relatives who oversee and live in our family’s Buddhist temple in Iwaki City, south of Sendai, the biggest city near the epicenter. I wondered if they too were lucky and smart.

I wanted to know, and I did not want to know. I dipped into the world of the Internet, with its videos of water raging over the farmland and crushed ferries, and then quickly backed out. Not looking at the videos kept reality at bay, because the images of the coastline do not match the Japan that I know….


Madeleine Brand had Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters on her show Monday to talk about how bleak the chances are that any Republican legislators will vote for Brown’s proposed budget.

According to Cal Buzz, it is not so much that certain moderate Republicans wouldn’t cross over party lines, as it is the fact that the California Republican Party is out-and-out threatening any Repubs who vote with the governor. Specifically, if they do the California Republican Assembly has proposed a resolution that…..

“….censures these traitorous Republicans-in-Name-Only, ask(s) for their resignation(s) from their positions within the California Republican Party, pledges to endorse and support efforts to recall them from office, and directs the California Republican Party staff, agents and officers to refuse to provide them with funding or assistance in future elections.”

Nice. That’s really putting the good of the state first. Well done, guys.


Both of these stories were linked by Kevin Roderick at LA Observed:

First there is LAPD crime analyst and fellow Bennington MFA graduate, Ellen Collett, who has written a delicious piece that appears in the Utne Reader about the art of writing a good crime report, and a South LA cop named Martinez who is her favorite practitioner.

Roderick also links to the “correction” run by the LA Weekly’s Simon Wilson pursuant to her creepy, insensitive and marginally assaultive coverage of the February Tahrir Square attack on CBS reporter Lara Logan, coverage that was criticized by a number of other women journalists, myself included.

Not only does Wilson fail to apologize (which was what was called for), but her correction, such as it is, also manages to be creepy and vaguely assaultive.

To wit:

The LA Weekly reported earlier in the day on February 15 that Logan had been raped, based on language in a press release from CBS. The CBS release said Logan had suffered a “brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.”

But did the attack constitute rape? The legal definition of rape is penetration with any object, to any extent — the most extreme form of sexual assault. Experts on legal language have since informed us that CBS’ description of the incident implies repeated rape, but the Weekly has not been able to determine what occurred. CBS declines all further comment.

Therefore, we conclude that we erroneously interpreted CBS’ report of what happened to Logan on February 11, 2011.

Gee, thanks Simone, for the graphic “legal definition.” Very helpful.

Next time you have the desire to make things better, please don’t.

The photo of Sutter Brown, the state’s official First Dog, contemplating budgetary matters with the governor, was taken by Brown political adviser, Steve Glazer.

Posted in California budget, criminal justice, environment, LAPD, literature, media, Natural Disasters | 2 Comments »

8.9 Earthquake, Tsunami – #PrayingForJapan

March 11th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon

Excellent (if alarming) online live streaming from Japan on

Posted in Natural Disasters | 4 Comments »

Ted Hall, Arnie Quinones & Camp 16: Part 2 – the Inferno

September 11th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon


The memorial for LA County firefighters Captain Ted Hall and Specialist Arnie Quinones will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

So let us revisit the events on Mt. Gleason on August 30 in order to honor the work and the lives of two men who became the teachers, heroes and friends, over the years, to several hundred wildland firefighters—who also happened to be prison inmates.

Many of those former inmates will be prominent among the mourners at Elysian Park on Saturday morning.


Mt. Gleason, or Camp 16 —it is known by both appellations-
— was opened in 1979 as the first of four Los Angeles County Fire Department Wild Land fire camps where prison inmates are trained in wild land fire fighting techniques—and then deployed to the front lines when a fire breaks out.

“Most of us are flatlanders,” said LA County fire inspector Steve Zermeno. “We’re the ones who are going to be used for structure protection. These guys,” he said, “the inmates, are the people who are trained in wildland firefighting, which is a whole different thing.

“So when we get a big fire like the Station fire, we really count on them.”

At the time that the Station Fire broke out—the largest fire ever to hit LA—Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones were stationed at Mt. Gleason to train, mentor and help deploy Camp 16′s teams of inmate firefighters.

It seems that, for both men, their commitment to the fire camp work was some kind of genuine calling. Ted Hall had been stationed at Gleason for the past few years and loved being up there.

Arnie Quinones, who was younger than Ted Hall, had been at the Gleason camp longer, since 2005. But when the department higher ups learned that his adored wife Lori was pregnant, they offered Q.—as he was called—a chance to transfer to a post that would be closer to his wife as her delivery date approached.

Arnie declined the transfer. He was devoted to his wife, but in terms of work, he wanted to remain with the wildfire inmates at Camp 16.

It was, as we now know, a fateful choice—in the worst and the best sense or the term.

It has already been reported, here and elsewhere, that Quinones and Hall helped save the lives of the 55 inmates and three CDCR staff who were still at Mt. Gleason when a part of the Station fire made a run at the camp. (The camp’s other 50 or so inmates were already deployed on the fire lines.)

But the details of what happened that day are far scarier:

The fire didn’t just overrun the camp. It turned into a blast-furnace and melted it. It caused its windows to to turn liquid and run into sculptural puddles. When people talk about infernos, the fire that ate Camp Gleason is what they have in mind.

NOTE: The investigation is ongoing and new facts and shadings to events will assuredly emerge, but, based on interviews with CDCR officials and LA County Fire spokespeople, here is the best of what we know so far about what happened on Mt. Gleason :

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in CDCR, Fire, LACFD, Natural Disasters | 21 Comments »

Ted Hall, Arnie Quinones & Camp 16: Part 1 – Inmate Grief

September 11th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon


When I posted a less detailed version of the above story ten days ago,
after the news of Hall and Quinones deaths became public, former Mt. Gleason inmates and their family members wrote in to say how much Hall and Quinones mattered to them.

You’ll find some of those comments excerpted below:


Q, was an amazing foreman, well at least that is what my husband Steve Guzman says. My husband had the honor and priveldge of working under Q as one of the inmate firefighters for two years and developed a friendship with him. Q even made an effort to come out to visit and meet with the families which made it much more real. Steve has countless stories of the amazing man Q was, not once did he treat the men any less because of who they were. He developed genuine bonds with the inmates and for that he will always be hoonored. I can tell you first hand what the friendship meant to my husband, I saw it first hand. Q made an impact on Steve’s life as he counseled and befriended him.

He is our fallen hero. May God bless his family and our prayers go out to them.


Thanks for mentioning the inmate crews; seems they never get recognition. As an ex-inmate fire fighter I was proud to have served with such people as our fallen heroes.


This is very close to me because my husband was one of the inmates left behind. I had called the camp minutes before the camp caught on fire and at that time they were getting ready to evacuate. I can just image the fear they felt. I never met captain Hall but heard really good things about him. I know my husband Christopher Buttner is really upset about the loss of Q as he called him. I had the privilege to meet him 2 months ago during a visit with my husband and he had nothing but respect for my husband and nothing but nice things to say about him. Q made is rounds that day to all the families there that were visiting. How he treated those men ment a lot to my husband. My husband said he always treated them like a fellow fire fighter not an inmate. This lifted him and showed him he was not just an inmate or a number. I thank his wife for being so supportive by standing by him as he trained and work a long side men that had done wrong and giving them a chance to rehabilitate themselves. My prayers go out to his whole family. He will never be forgotten.


My husband is also an inmate firefighter. He tells me that he loves giving back to society. The captains are very nice to them and get to know them as a person. They give these guys respect and a second chance.


My son is a camp foreman at camp 16 and was on duty that day. He credits the efforts and actions of Ted and Arnie with saving their lives. The foremen and crews have suffered a great loss and experienced almost loosing their own lives as well.

(Note: The camp foreman is an LA County firefighter, not an inmate.)


I am a wife of one of the inmates that was stuck in MT Gleason #16 and I’m still very devastated. The thought of watching it on T.V and not knowing what is going to happen to all of them and not able to get any information was the worst anyone can go through but thanks to all the prayers from all the families, they lived through it. I had a chance to talk to my husband and I’m thankful he and all the inmates and staff survived this hell. I’m very saddened with the loss of these two wonderful men Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones. I know they were good people and both men treated the inmates as people not criminals.


My son is alive because of the actions of those two men.But, there has to be an inquiry of why the system was not concerned about getting those men out of that terrible place. If that had been done, two people would still be alive and their families happy.
Now, they are saying that the LACO firefighters need therapy because of the tragedy. What about the inmates that were terrified and experienced fear and death? Why aren’t thay being provided therapy? Do they not have any feelings.


As a former inmate at a camp, I can attest to the dedication these men have to their crews. There are 33 camps in Calif,two women and the rest men. I am thankful for the camps and the chance it gave us to give back to society. These men are awesome examples of what a hero is and about how one should treat his fellow man.

NOTE: Memorial T-Shirts and Memorial Fund information may be found here,

Photo by Brian Watt/KPCC

Posted in CDCR, Fire, LACFD, Natural Disasters | 2 Comments »

Firefighters Arnie Quinones & Ted Hall: A Hero Story

August 31st, 2009 by Celeste Fremon


Firefighters are, by definition, heroic.
But in some cases, the heroism is more direct.

We know that Sunday night Los Angeles County Firefighters Arnie Quinones and Ted Hall, both experienced firefighters—Ted a 26-year veteran of LACFD, Arnie a specialist—were killed in the course of working on the Station fire. We think it happened when a ferocious and fast-moving tongue of the blaze overtook their vehicle causing them to go off the road. Or maybe it was the smoke that blinded them for a fatal moment. Investigators are not yet sure. What is completely clear is that they plunged down an 800 foot embankment, and the engine truck flipped, landing upside down.

“Look,” LA County Fire Inspector Frederic Stowers told me. ” One thing I can tell you is that it’s a dangerous road even when it’s daylight and there’s no fire.”

What we also do know is that just before Hall and Quinones
got on that fire-haunted road, they helped to save the lives of 58 other men, and that they were on that difficult road trying to find a route to safety for those same 58 men when the fire in some way caught up with them.

In short: this is a hero story.

NOTE: BEFORE READING ON...please know that this post about of the events on Mt. Gleason was an early account that reflects as much as CDCR officials knew at the time. Since this account was written new facts have emerged, which I posted about here. But the investigation is ongoing and a truly accurate account may not emerge for some time. However one thing that those of us covering this incident have heard repeatedly: and that is the message that many of those trapped on Mt. Gleason might not be alive had it not been for Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones.

Both Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones were known to be ardent family guys. Quinones’s wife was pregnant and due to give birth to the couple’s first child within a few weeks. The soon-to-be-father was thrilled. Hall was married with two sons—ages 20 and 21—whom he doted on and adored.

But in addition to their families, the men also loved the work. At the time of their deaths, both Hall and Quinones were engaged in an interesting and unusual job for LACFD: They were assigned to Mt. Gleason Fire Camp, a wildland fire training and deployment facility that is located deep in the Angeles National Forest at an abandoned missile base that, during the cold war, was considered one of the Los Angeles basin’s bulwarks against any nuclear threat.

Mt Gleason Fire Camp is run by the California Department of Corrections and by the LA County Fire Department. It is one of five CDCR wildland fire camps in which adult prison inmates are trained and work as firefighters. The camp guys function in crews skilled in such tasks as aiding in the setting of backfires and clearing fire breaks in the path of advancing flames.

Hall and Quinones were one of a handful of LA County firefighters stationed at Gleason to provide supervision and training for the 105 inmates who were assigned to the camp.

On Sunday, August 30, about half of the Mt. Gleason inmates were already deployed out in the field fighting the various Southern California fires. (According to the CDCR, there are 2,245 firefighting inmates working on fires up and down the state.)

But 55 of the inmates plus three CDCR staff were still back at the camp.They became trapped when suddenly the Station fire came straight at the Mt. Gleason facility itself.

If a fire has the right combination of fuel and wind, it can move faster than a man can run. On Sunday the winds were not the problem. But the fuel was. So as the Station fire barreled toward Mt. Gleason, there was no way to escape it. Hall and Quinones, and other LA County firefighters stationed with them, calmly directed the 55 inmate firefighters and the three CDCR staffers into the cinder-block dining hall, which they deemed to be the only building likely to survive the coming conflagration.

It was a good choice. The fire passed over the cinder block structure, but only barely. As soon as they could, Hall and Quinones moved the group out of the dining hall into a large parking area, which was about the only part of the camp that was now not actively burning.

Yet, fires are volatile and so it was agreed it was necessary to get everyone out of Mt. Gleason camp altogether as soon as was humanly possible. With this goal in mind, Hall and Quinones took off in one of the engine trucks, intending to check out the narrow, winding Three Mile Road to see if it was a viable route to safety.

We know now, of course, that they did not find a safe road out.

Instead the fire found them.

Eventually, the rest of the 57 men were able to somehow make their way down the mountain and out of harm’s way. In the meantime, Camp Gleason burned completely to the ground, with it, the inmates’ very few possessions—pictures, letters and the like. But at least they were still alive.

Once safe themselves, the inmate firefighters learned to their horror that Hall and Quinones —their respected coaches, teachers and the men who had kept them from harm—did not survive.

“These guys were devastated, just devastated,” said CDCR spokesperson, Terry Thornton. “When the firefighters and the inmates work together up in those camps, they all really get to know each other—you know, just as people. These are really cooperative relationships. So they were devastated. A lot of them were out fighting fires, and they didn’t hear until later…”

All at once, Thornton’s voice became thick.

“I don’t want to start crying here,” she said.

LA County Fire Inspector Frederic Stowers echoed her grief and added his own.

“I’d worked with both those guys,”
he said. “They were very well known here. Very well known, very well liked, and well respected.” He too found the need to gather himself.

“They were friends,” he said finally. Then after another pause. “I think the hardest thing is wondering what they went through. ……This is very difficult for us.”


The photo above was taken in 2007 of another CDCR crew, when I was snapping pictures at the fire base in Malibu.

POST SCRIPT: An hour after I posted this account, I got one of my regular calls from an inmate
doing time at one of the California state prisons. It was a man named Danny Cabral, whom I’ve known for many years.

When guys call, sometimes they have an agenda: they want me to give some message or other to their girlfriend, or their kid or their mother. Most often they simply want to talk, so I make a point of telling them chatty stories about something in my day, just to provide whatever moment of normalcy I can offer.

Danny nearly always fell into the latter category,
so I related the story about Mt. Gleason, the inmates and the tragedy of the heroic fighter fighters.

“I’m glad you told me that,” he said, “even though it’s sad. And I’m glad you’re writing about that stuff. See, a lot of guys I know have been to those fire camps, and risked their own lives to fight fires. And they were glad to do it. Really glad. It makes them feel like they’re doing something that….matters.”

Just then, the recorded 60-second warning message interrupted his words. When it stopped, Danny hastened to finish the point, his voice now soft.

“People need to know that, just because we’re locked up
, it doesn’t mean we aren’t people,” Danny said. “And a lot of us here want to do something good.

He hesitated. “Do you know what I’m saying?” he asked.

I did, I said.

And then the allotted time was up. . The line went blank. We were disconnected.

Posted in Fire, LACFD, Natural Disasters | 53 Comments »

Katrina, Triage & The Cost of Great Journalism

August 31st, 2009 by Celeste Fremon


For the second week in a row, the New York Times Magazine
has presented a cover story that is everything that journalism should be.

The story, called “The Deadly Choices at Memorial,is about the choices some doctors and nurses made at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans after the back-up generators failed, the majority of the most able patients had already been rescued, and only the very, very sick were left behind. Days later, when help finally arrived, 45 people were dead, 17 of those patients had lethal doses of morphine and other drugs in their blood streams.

In 2007, a grand jury declined to indict the doctors accused of administering those drugs as a form of mercy killing. The New York Times cover story painstakingly and intelligently revisits the entire issue.

The article’s author is Sheri Fink, a medical doctor and staff reporter at ProPublica, the independent nonprofit investigative journalism organization that began in 2007 and launched in 2008, as the news-business-as-we-know-it was in full collapse.

In more than two years of investigating, Fink obtained previously unavailable records and spoke to dozens of people who were involved in or observed circumstances at Memorial. She paints a complex story that points beyond itself to large array of moral, ethical and legal questions.

It is a work of journalism that is important and will likely be recognized come prize time.

But the New York Times didn’t pay for the reporting and the other costs of the investigation. ProPublica did. (The NYT had to cough up some money, but not the preponderance.)

Neither did the Times pay for last week’s excellent central story on women’s rights. It was rejiggered from an upcoming book.

So, how much does such a story cost to produce? Mother Jones magazine ran its own feature to answer that question:

They estimate $400,000.

For the record, I think that’s an overblown number. (They estimate the NYT fact checking process as costing $10,000 and the NYT lawyers vetting the piece, on top of ProPublica’s lawyers, who also vetted the piece, as costing $20,000 each, respectively. (Surely one $20,000 vetting should have been enough. And, $20,000? Really? I’ve had plenty of stories lawyer vetted since I have often written about crimes, so even the single vetting price tag seems a bit…um… steep. But whatever.)

You can see the rest of the numbers here.

Yet, despite my individual quibbles, the point is correct. Good journalism is expensive.

So this leaves the question that is often asked these days: in this rapidly changing media environment, who is going to pay for the journalism that is so necessary to a healthy democracy?

Part of the answer lies in these stories themselves. They were, after all, reported and written—newspaper collapse, notwithstanding—proving that some great work is finding a way to exist and always will.

But that isn’t the whole of the answer. ProPublica is a comparatively small organization that takes on only a few select issues to investigate

And Nicholas Kristof and his wife are both top-of-the-food-chain Pulitzer winners who were able to afford to write their book in their off hours, which resulted also in the magazine cover story, in part, because they make good salaries and get a goodly amount of expense-accounted travel, all courtesy of the New York Times.

And so what of all the stories that are being ignored? Judging by the compelling tips and pleas about stories that are sent to me alone on a weekly basis…that pile is growing larger every day.

Posted in Future of Journalism, Natural Disasters | 5 Comments »

Fire Weather: Two LA County Firefighters Killed – UPDATED

August 31st, 2009 by Celeste Fremon


UPDATE: 5:15 P.M. The word is now, according to LASD’s Steve Whitmore,
that those five people in Gold Canyon who needed rescue, don’t need to be rescued after all. According to Whitmore one of the group’s members has been calling local radio stations and news outlets saying that they’re fine. That they never needed rescuing.


Whitmore says that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department had been notified of the trapped five by one of the rescuees directly by phone. Whatever the case, it hardly needs to be said that the sheriff’s are feeling a little irritable that they nearly put men and women in harms way to rescue people who…..

Oh, never mind. I guess all is well, that ends well.

May everyone stay safe.

Time lapse photography of the Station Fire by Brandon Riza, posted this morning, taken Saturday. As horrible as this fire is, the photos are almost balletic.

2 p.m. – So far the flames have been far too intense to rescue
the five people trapped in Gold Canyon, north of Lakeview Terrace. Sheriff’s spokesperson, Steve Whitmore is sounding more and more vexed by this situation with each successive news release on the rescue attempts.

His vexation is with good cause. Evacuation order for the area were issued two days ago.

Meanwhile, TV stations and other news outlets, are making plans for back-ups and work-arounds
in case Mt. Wilson goes down.

For instance, KNBC, Channel 4, has arranged to broadcast via its sister station, Telemundo, whose transmitters are not on Mt. Wilson, but on Mt. Harvard, which is also threatened, but not with the same immediacy.

If Mr. Harvard goes down, I have been told that KNBC’s Digital Channel 4.2 is being eyed as a back-up.

If some of the local NPR stations go down, they can, of course be accessed via your handy iPhone if you load the NPR Ap.

12:15 p.m.: A group of people are trapped by the Station fire
in an area north of Lakeview Terrace and near to Little Tujunga Road. The area was thought to have been previously evacuated. Now sheriff’s deputies are attempting a rescue—at great danger to themselves, as the area is overgrown with chaparral.

NOTE: This is, by the way, why when the sheriffs or cops tell you that evacuation is mandatory, you need to pack up the kids, the photos, the hard drives and the animals….and freaking leave.

NOTE 2: Last night, National Forest officials and LACFD were estimating that the Station fire would be contained by Sept. 8. Now they’re saying Sept. 15. (!!!)

KTLA’s Eric Spillman took a drive up to Wilson and came back with photos and reports.

10:20 a.m.

Firefighters have set back fires and have, for the moment, slowed the fires aimed at the top of Mt. Wilson. But not enough. Leaving teams on the mountain has been deemed too risky, and they have been pulled away from the observatory while the access road is still open.

We understand. We want no more dead firefighters.

Sky and Telescope magazine has this report on the fire threat to Mt. Wilson. Although, matters are changing so quickly, that much of its info is out of date by morning. It nonetheless has lots of details about the observatory and the communications equipment at risk. Plus, the time lapse photos are cool.

UPDATE: 9 a.m. – the Station Fire is approximately 1/4 mile from the Mt. Wilson observatory.

The fire has doubled in size-–from 43,000 acres at midnight last night, to 85,000 this morning.

When there is a big fire in Los Angeles County,
it hangs over the rest of LA life as a specter formed of flame and ashes.

The shadow thrown by the so-called Station fire, which has now burned nearly 45,000 acres, grew measurably darker when the city learned the terrible nws that, on Sunday,
two LA County fire fighters had been killed fighting the fire. According to the visibly choked up County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant, the fire fighters died when the fire overran them and their vehicle rolled on the side of Mt. near to Acton. Although 2575 people from various states are now fighting the Station fire, the two killed were local— from the LA County FD.

The two killed were Fire Captain Tedmund “Ted” Hall and Firefighter Specialist Arnaldo “Arnie” Quinones. Captain Hall was 47 and had been with the LACFD for 26 years.

Arnie Quinones was 35 and had been with the department 8 years.

Then at 10:30 Sunday night, it was announced that the fire was less than a mile from the observatory at the top of Mt. Wilson, which is the home to many of LA’s TV and FM transmitters, as well as some of those of law enforcement. It is expected to reach the peak during the night, or early Monday morning, reported the Pasadena Star-News.

“It’s not a matter of if (flames reach the top),” said Forest Service Capt. Mike Dietrich, “it’s a matter of when.”

Dietrich said the communications equipment there are “truly in jeopardy.”

(The LA Times has a report listing all that would be affected if the observatory got hit hard.)

The Wilson website reported the following at 8 p.m. Sunday night:

A critical aspect to the survivability of the Observatory should the fire sweep across it is whether or not fire fighters will be on site during such an event. The U.S. Forest Service continually assesses the danger to fire fighters in any scenario and will withdraw fire crews in situations that are particularly precarious. Such an evaluation took place on Mount Wilson in the last half hour with the decision for the fire crews to remain in place tonight. That’s very good news.

Indeed, there are 25 firefighters at the top of Mt. Wilson who will stay “no matter what,” according to a US Forest Service spokesman.

ON A PRACTICAL NOTE: Those Needing information about the most recent evacuation orders, should dial 211.

PRACTICAL NOTE 2: The Pasadena Human Society is overrun with animals rescued from the fire and needs people who can bring in carrying crates and/or are will to be foster families for some of the overflow rescued critters.


Back later in the morning with more news.

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