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Firefighters Arnie Quinones & Ted Hall: A Hero Story

August 31st, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

ted-hull-and-arnie-quinones-2


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.”

cdcr-firefighters


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 »

53 Responses

  1. WBC Says:

    Wow, you lost no time in researching this and revealing the human stories behind it.

    Avoiding the nasty politicizing going on elsewhere, like talk radio using it as a chance to blame the mayor for not ceding to LAFD’s contract demands, and the Times weighing in speculatively blaming the cuts for the drowning death of a 3 year-old child in Bel Air. (Who should never have been unsupervised near an open pool in the first place.)

    I’m sure these two heroes and their friends and colleagues thank you, too. I’ve run into some of these prison work crews clearing brush, by the way, and they seemed very friendly and “normal.” Looked pleased to be of service.

  2. Marc Stevenson Says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing the story of these two brave heroes. Arnie Quinones was my friend. We went to high school together and played high school football and basketball together. He was one of the most charming people I have ever known! He has and will always stand out to me an outstanding person. He will be greatly missed. As a Sr. Pasor today my prayers will be with his family. Thank you again
    Pastor Marc Stevenson

  3. Gabby Guzman Says:

    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.

  4. reg Says:

    Great post…thanks.

  5. kooly Says:

    My prayers go out to their familias, 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 heros.

  6. Clifford Davis Says:

    I worked with Ted Hall while I was in the army. It should be noted that not only worked with inmates, but also with the army. I was in 1/38 infantry regiment out of Fort Lewis, Washington. During the tripod complex fire in 2006, we were called to assist an out of control fire. Each company was broken up into ten man teams, led by a professional firefighter. Ted Hall was our professional. He was a cool character who, for the three weeks we spent every waking hour together, taught us and protected us. Though in his mid-forties, he was in just as good of shape as any of us, many of whom were Rangers. His kindness and skill will always be with me. It does not surprise me in the least that he died the way he did. I still have the LA County Fire Department shirt he gave all of us. God bless him.

  7. mims Says:

    Thank you for this post. I had always wondered how the concept of inmate firefighters worked. I now realize the large part they play in setting breaks for the horrible wildfires we experience here. In addition, my heart goes out to the two fallen firefighter’s families. What a terrible loss of 2 fine men. They will be missed.

  8. Jeff Isais Says:

    Ted Hall was my cousin, but much more than that he was my friend. He has always been a kind wonderful and positive person who touched everyone he met with his cheerful attitude and friendly personality.

    We grew up doing the things kids do and as he became a man he was someone I always looked up to even though I am a bit older.

    He will be truely missed by hundreds he touched throughout his life and will always be a hero to me and my family.

  9. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Thank you so much to Marc, Gabby, Kooly, Jeff and Clifford.

    Your stories make the deaths of Arnie and Ted that much more heartbreaking. Yet we need the details you are providing if we are to honor these men properly.

    I heard from the folks at LA County FD that they both loved working the camps.

  10. Ronald Stowe Says:

    Ted Hall came from a fire fighting family. Both his father and his uncle were fire fighters also. His uncle Randy is my lifelong friend and his father Ray and I are friends also.

    I met Ted during his hot rod phase as a young man. He bought a 1964 Chevy Malibu from me and turned into a street monster race car. Years later I would kid him about destroying a perfectly good car. He laughed “I was young and didn’t know any better then” he said.

    What impressed me about Ted was his cheerful nature. He was just a exceedingly nice guy. I will always remember Randy’s daughter Kristen wearing a Ted Hall fanclub T shirt. It seemed kind of odd at the time but now i can understand the reasons why.

    I too am a fan of Ted Hall. His death saddens me. I know that he was a true professional in every way. The world is a better place for his contibutions and I am proud to have known him.

  11. Mavis Beacon Says:

    Very moving tributes. Thanks.

  12. Beth Hough Hernandez Says:

    Thank you for this report. I went to high school with Arnie and though I lost touch with him and his wife over the years, I am grateful for who they were in my life. It blesses me to think of Arnie as a fire fighter and a hero. Even in high school he stood up for me and another friend in the face of bullies, once. My prayers are with his family.

  13. LaNette Says:

    Teddy was my older cousin by 9 years. When I was a kid he alway treated me like I was just as old as everyone else. He never acted like I was the pesty little cousin, but made me feel like I fit in, which of course I didn’t, I was 7. Teddy was never too cool to be nice to anyone. He was so cool because he was so nice. My cousin Teddy was the best. He will be missed by all who knew him.

  14. Kathy Says:

    I met Ted years ago when he started dating and eventually married my best friend Kathy. I knew when she introduced him to me that he was the ONE for her. Men like Ted are a rare breed. Ted had character, sincerity, integrity, kindness ,loyalty, wisdom and strength and I knew that he would take care of Kathy’s heart and make sure that she continued to grow to be the best possible person that she could be. Ted was like that, he was always striving to be the best that he could be. Anyone that knows Ted, knows that he would do anything to help you. He was about service, helping someone else out of a jam and being with family. My heart breaks for Kathy and they boys and for all of the Hall’s extended family. Ted was a Gentle Giant that touched the lives of so many people. There are so many people that he helped in the obvious way; their houses are still standing. There is deeper way that Ted touched the lives of others. He worked with prisoners in the work camps, the people that were in these camps that were lucky enough to work with Ted had to learn more from him than just fighting fires. Ted was a very patient person, and he sincerely cared about people. Ted’s positive attitude , support and laughter were contagious, it always rubbed off on everyone that he was around and I am sure that he rubbed off on them and helped them to remember that they are not just convicts but people too and that they are responsible for making their lives better. Ted was also a great “life” teacher. He will be missed by many.

    In Ted and Arnie’s Memory, the next time that you see someone that needs help, please think of both Ted and Arnie and take the time to help that person. Maybe even volunteer for something, especially if you have talents that could help other people.

  15. Kevin Says:

    Very nicely done, Celeste.

  16. Andrea Buttner Says:

    I thank you for this story. I really do love how you covered both the lost fire fighters and the inmate involved. This sorry is very close to me because my husband was one of the imates 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 privledge 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 themselfs. My prayers go out to his whole family. He will never be forgotten. God Bless all the fire fighters that are still out there fighting these fire.

  17. Maria Says:

    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 heart goes out to the families of both firefighters. I always knew firefighters were heroes and I want to thank you for sharing their story.

  18. LAFD fails in Station Fire. | Griffith Park, Interrupted Says:

    [...] lives, Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones. (And perhaps this is insensitive of me to point out, but they were driving a fire engine on a winding mountain road, which apparently flipped down a cliff. If they had been [...]

  19. Mary Says:

    Thanks for this story. My husband is the cousin of Kathy Hall (Ted’s wife). We are deeply saddened to hear of this tragic news.

    Just an FYI, at one point in your story you say

    “Both Don Hall and Arnie Quinones were known… His first name is Ted not Don.

  20. Randy Paul Says:

    This is precisely why I read your blog, Celeste.

  21. Mary C. Says:

    I want to first offer my deepest compassion and sympathy to the families of Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones. Next,I must offer my deepest gratitude to Ted and Arnie for doing their job in a way that allowed the camp foremen to do their jobs and save the lives of the correction officers, inmates and themselves.
    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. Firefighter familes watch coverage of these fires praying for their husbands, sons, brothers and friends safety. I ask you to please do the same.Thank you.

  22. sandy & Isiah Says:

    Arnie, We love you and Miss you, Uncle Arnie I will miss you so much, Life will not be the same without you. We will make sure we are There for Aunt Lori ANd Baby. Thank you all for kind words for our Family’s

  23. Gia Says:

    My deepest condolences to the families of these heroes – Mr. Ted Hall and Mr. Arnie Quinones.

    Everyone at my office is praying for you and crying with you. This is just so devastating. I have no words.

    Thank you, Ted & Arnie. We will never be able to thank you enough.

    God bless you.

    Gia

    PS. Please let LA Times know how to help you at least financially, everyone at my office is asking.

  24. Angela Says:

    My prayers go out to Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones also to all the inmates and staff that survived this tragic moment. I am a wife of one of the inmates that was stuck in MT Gleason #16 and Im 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 im thankful he and all the inmates and staff survived this hell. Im very sadded with the lost of this two wonderful men Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones that passed away on 08/30/09. I know they were good people and both men treated the inmates as people not crimenals. Thank you!!

  25. Celeste Fremon Says:

    I want to again thank the commenters here for sharing their stories. I find myself deeply affected over and over by your words.

    I plan to do a post tomorrow or, more likely, Friday, that pulls pieces of these comments to the front page, as I believe they are important.

  26. SAMUEL Says:

    Ccamp 16-yes-nobody knew about this camp unless you were one of the families involved, whether civilian or corrections. These “people” were there to protect and save. The “inmates” appreciated this great opprtunity. But, because they are inmates the system treats them worse than animals. The TV coverage was mentioning the rescue of wildlife and horses-nothing about humans. Especially humans in harms way.
    My son is alive because of the actions of those two men. Yes, they are to be commended and their families honored. 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 matter of fact, the inmates families do not know where their loved are at this point. This is because the system has policies that do not allow communication.
    Well, business back to usual. Honor heroes and punish the wrongdoers.

  27. Misty Cross Says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with both families. So tragic to lose these heroes.I have known Arnie since I was a little girl he is my cousins uncle and has always been part of the family. I am still in shock. Terrible to think he will not be here for his first born my thoughts are with you Lori.He was an amazing, charesmatic, and full of life individual you will forever be missed but never forgotten.

  28. Clint Dragoo Says:

    Arnie,

    I am feeling such an incredible feeling of emptiness. This tragedy has brought me back over 20 years in my thoughts. A time of my life I haven’t thought about for many years.

    We became brothers on the football field, and I always appreciated your courage and fearlessness.

    Brother, I pray to see you again in heaven.

    Ozzie and Lori, words cannot express the sorrow I feel for you now. I can only pray that God will grant you some comfort. Dawn and I love you guys.

  29. Bryta Ingram (Mendoza) Says:

    Laurie,Ozzie and family.My huband and I will be praying for you all.Reading everyones stories you must have been so proud of Arnie.I will be praying for your labor and delivery.May the Lord bless and keep you all in his loving arms.I would love to know if there is gonna be any kind of fund set up,please let me know.Your old friend,Bryta

  30. Gissel Figueroa Says:

    Arnie, we are all so proud of you and we will miss you alot. There aren’t enough words to explain what a great person you are or what a great job you have done or how much you are loved. I will miss you endlessly and remember you always…
    May you Rest in Peace…
    With all my heart,
    Gisa

  31. CMM Says:

    Several different ways have been set up to help:

    Make Checks Payable to:

    Arnaldo Quinones Memorial Fund
    Acct # 617172
    Send to:
    F&A Federal Credit Union
    2625 Corporate Place
    Monterey Park, CA 91754

    (If you need to contact them for any reason or to see if they take credit card, please call Rich Andrews @ (800) 222-1226 x 5901)

    Also, Psycho City Tattoo in Lancaster and American Made Tattoo in Rosamond are having a benefit for the family of Arnie Quinones this weekend September 5th and 6th . They will be doing tattoos all day and every dollar made is going to the family. Even if you don’t want to get tattooed there will be donation boxes at both shops. Please come out and help them make this a success. Large or small everything helps.

    Psycho City 661-949-7649

    American Made 661-256-7093

    R.I.P ARNIE…OUR FRIEND, OUR HERO.

  32. ANN AND FAMILY Says:

    ARNIE WAS A MAN OF PRIDE ESPECIALLY WHEN IT CAME TO HIS JOB… PRAYERS GO OUT TO HIS FAMILY AND WIFE. MAY HE BE LAID TO REST AND HIS LEGACY MOVES ON WITH THE NEW BABY ON THE WAY, MAY GOD BLESS EVERYONE… WE ARE ALL PROUD OF HIM AND THE HEROIC THINGS HE LEFT BEHIND FOR ALL TO REMEMBER..

    GOD BLESS YOU AND THE FAMILY

  33. Greg Dalia Says:

    I knew Arnie and his brother Junior as infants growing up in Queens Village New York. His mom Sonia and late dad Oscar were like family to me and my brother growing up. From playing video games at Donatos pizza to drag racing @ Lake Success shopping center, he was always a great kid and loved by anyone who was lucky enough to meet him. Arnie was just the most adorable kid, always smiling and he could make anyone smile just by being himself. We are devastated here in NY. He will always be in our hearts and prayers and will be missed more than words can say. Our deepest condolences go out to his mom Sonia, brother Ozzie, his wife Loressa and my dear friend Diego. May God Bless you all during this difficult time in your lives. We are always here for all of you. May you rest in peace in the arms of your father. We deeply miss you both.

  34. Brian Dela Vina Says:

    I met Arnie when he was going to Bethel and I was coaching another private school. We were just aquaintances then until about 1995 or so when I met him again through a mutual friend this time with Lore in his arms. We got along great and spent the years hanging out racing, working on cars or just simply sitting back and just talking. The thing I remember about Arnie the most is that he was an “athlete” you see, he always said “I’m an athlete, I can get that done or I can do this or that” and he always did. He wanted to be a firefighter for as long as I’ve know him. Unfortunately I lost contact with the family over the last 5 years or so due to work and juggling family life. The bottom line is do not ever loose contact with friends or families you never know what life has laid out ahead of you.
    Arnie, I will miss you greatly, you always had my back when I needed you and we had great times being “athletes” and singing good ol’ boys..
    Ozzie, Lore, Mrs. Quinones and family know that your son, brother, husband and as a member of your family made a huge positive impact in my life as well as others all over the country. He was a great charismatic friend who was true to his roots, family and friends. My family and I are here for you. Our prayers and condolences are for you. May the lord grant you peace and comfort through this difficult time.

    Arnie may you rest in peace brother! God bless you all.

  35. Tamika Diaz Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    This so beautifully written & I will share with my family on the East Coast. Keep the comments & personal stories coming…

    Prayers to the Hall Family as well.

    Tamika (Arnie’s cousin on the East Coast)

  36. Former deadwood Says:

    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. My prayers go out for the two families and to their extended family, the men at the CC up Gleason

  37. Frank Quinones Says:

    My son is a Burbank firefighter,ironicaly his name is Frank Quinone! when I heard the first news report and all I heard was Quinones, my heart stopped!I feel that I am part of the firefighter family because of my son.We are having a Labor Day neighborhood in La Mirada,part of our celebration will be in honor of Arnie Quinones.We will collect donation for his wife and his unborn child.Can someone please direct me to the memorial donation website? God bless you my son and thank you.

  38. Frank Quinones Says:

    My son is a Burbank firefighter,ironicaly his name is Frank Quinones! when I heard the first news report and all I heard was Quinones, my heart stopped!I feel that I am part of the firefighter family because of my son.We are having a Labor Day neighborhood party in La Mirada,part of our celebration will be in honor of Arnie Quinones.We will collect donation for his wife and his unborn child.Can someone please direct me to the memorial donation website? God bless you my son and thank you.

  39. Celeste Fremon Says:

    If you go to http://www.lacountyfire.com/ you’ll find all the information as to how to donate and where. Please tell your son thank you for his work.

  40. James and Elisa Vondra Says:

    We are heartbroken at the loss of our friend Arnie. Words can’t describe the loss that we feel in our hearts. We look forward to seeing him again in Heaven. Lori, our hearts and prayers are with you. You are going to be a wonderful mother and we look forward to meeting your baby. Ozzie, you too are in our prayers. Mrs. Quinones, Arnie had alot of respect for you. You should be proud that you produced a warrior. Our lives are full of memories of all the good times we had together. Arnie, we will always remember your smile and your laugh most of all. It just lit up a room and made everyone happy. We miss you! James and Elisa Vondra

  41. SAMUEL Says:

    MT. GLEASON AND MT. WILSON. CLOSE IN GEOGRAPHY BUT MILES AWAY IN IMPORTANCE AND SOCIAL NECESSITY. MT. WILSON HAS SHINY STEEL TOWERS AND OBSERVATORY. THOSE TOWERS AND STRUCTURES ARE NEEDED FOR SOCIETY TO EXIST. MT. GLEASON WAS DISPOSABLE, WHY? MT. GLEASON HAD FLESH AND BONES-HUMANS. NOBODY CARED ABOUT MT. GLEASON. EVERYBODY WAS IN AN UPROAR OVER THE “PERIL” MT. WILSON WAS SUPPOSEDLY IN. I HOPE THE POWERS THAT BE, THE US FOREST SERVICE, THE LACO FIRE DEPARTMENT, THE “CORRECTIONS” DEPARTMENT, SLEEP WELL AT NIGHT KNOWING THAT THEY WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR NOT GETTING THOSE MEN OUT OF HARMS WAY IN TIME. OVER FIFTY MEN WERE “TRAPPED”. IF NOT FOR THE ACTIONS OF THOSE TWO INVOLVED AND CARING HUMANS, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A CATASTROPHY OF MIND-BOOGLING MAGNITUDE. NOW THE FINGER-POINTING WILL START.

  42. Dee Ann Says:

    Mt. Gleason CC#16 was full of trained fire-fighting inmates and experienced personel, and I will never understand why 55 inmates were trapped and two instructors killed in the Staion FIre. I understand that each fire can behave diferently, but everyone knew that forest and tinder surrounded Mt. Gleason. Everyone also knew there was only one curving, steep highway to reach the Camp. Inmates were evacuated on Saturday and then bought BACK to the Camp to almost perish on Sunday. WHY? WHY? Was it because the CDCR had no place to put these inmates so they just sent them back up the mountain?? I will be eternally grateful to Ted and Arnie for the sacrifice of their lives to help these inmates and staff. Some men give some, but these two gave Everything!
    Does anyone have an adress or a phone number to call to find out the location/address of the Camp Gleason inmates as of now??? I have heard nothing from my loved one who was in camp the day it burned…He is scheduled to be released Oct. 10th and I have a package of “dress out” clothes that cannot be delivered to him, because I don’t know where he is located. Thanks for any help you can give me!

  43. Robyn Says:

    What a lovely portrait of two brave, wonderful men. When I first read this story, I was already heartbroken over the news. But it was here that I learned that Arnie Quinones and his wife were expecting expecting their first child together. As a mother myself, I became all the more devestated about this tragic story. I am up in the wee quiet hours of the night nursing my own baby, and my thoughts and prayers always visit Loressa, her growing baby, and her family. I had to figure out a way to reach out…I mean I felt like I knew them after reading this. So my mom and I conceived the idea of a virtual baby shower. Jerry Wolak, a Fire Fighter at Fire Station 82 in La Canada, where Arnie was once stationed, is helping us to collect gifts that are delivered/mailed to the station by Friday, Septemeber 25th. We are encouraging the donation of gift cards for many reasons. It’s so easy to buy gift cards, even for small amounts, to retailers like Target, babyGap, BabiesRUs, online or in person. And gift cards allow Loressa to buy what she needs (whether it be useful OR fun!), and will enable her to get out of the house and get some good old fashioned retail therapy once her precious little baby arrives. We don’t want to take away from the funds that have been established for both Quinones and Captain Hall in any way, but we figured those donations would be put towards longer term needs, and we wanted Loressa to feel special, and showered with love! So if you would like to participate, please send gift cards (or gifts) to Station 82, 352 Foothill Blvd, La Canada CA 91011. Thank you.

  44. Jerry Goudchaux Says:

    My son is an Engineer in the L.A. County Fire Department, he knew both of these men socaially as well as working with them at times in his career…I can only say this is a devistating course of events which happened…fire fighters put their lives on the line every day. They are all brothers and sisters and go to bat for on another in these situations. Thank you Celeste for writing such a beautiful piece on these two men.

  45. George Says:

    I did time at Mount Gleason from 2002 – 2007. I served as a fire fighter for two years until injuries to my knees forced me to man down off crew 16-2.

    I was devastated to hear of Quinones and Hall’s passing; but proud. Proud to have known two real men. I was fortunate to be able to attend the memorial service for them at Dodger Stadium today. It was a heart rending event.

    As much as it’s easy to say that doing time “aint no joke” I’m proud to have been able to serve on a crew as a firefighter. I learned alot from men the likes of Quinones and Hall. And carry the ethics I learned in camp out in the real world today.

    Much love and respect,

    George
    Dragspoon, crew 16-2

  46. Don Schwenke Says:

    I never met Ted, but I live in Acton. I am so saddened by his passing. I hope they find the people that did this to him.
    I truly believe that he is a hero!
    Safe T Climb Don, we love you!

  47. Lori Hall Barrios Says:

    The real version of events has not been made public and yours is inaccurate as accounted to his family by folks on that mountain at the time of the fire. Please stipulate that the investigation is in progress and until the incident report and official findings are made public posting theories and speculation of events and stating them as fact, does not help the investigation into this matter. Nor does it serve these brave men’s families as they grieve for their loved ones. Please state only facts and cite your sources or don’t post them as misinformation is hard to get back.

    Thank you
    A loving big sister

  48. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Hi, Lori,

    Thank you for the note.

    This is an old version that reflects what the CDCR thought to be true at the time. I have a newer version that is a product of the CDCR debriefing and additional LACFD info gained from interviews, but I have learned still more since writing it from someone who was there and wrote a detailed journal account, which was given to me. And likely that still doesn’t give a true picture.

    In any case, I’ll put up a dislaimer on both posts as the last thing I want to do is add to the pain of your family and that of Arnie Quinones.

    As you say, misinformation is easy to unwittingly put out, and hard to call back.

    I have talked to a great many people since the fire occurred at Camp 16 and have heard so many times and in so many ways what a wonderful, brave, devoted, great-hearted, talented man your brother was—a real leader. The county has lost much in losing him and Arnie Quinones. But we all understand that what you and the rest of his family have lost is incalculable. Beyond words.

    Thanks again for your note.

    Celeste

  49. gonzo Says:

    aunque sea un poco tarde pero mis mas sentido pesame para las dos familias que perdienos aus seres queridos yo fui UN INMATE DE AHI Y LES MANDO MIS MAS SINCERAS CONDOLENCIAS A TODOS LOS CAPITANES Y GUARDIAS DEL CDC

  50. Ross Tucker Says:

    May the Good Lord accept you both in heaven with open arms my brothers. May He comfort your families while you are waiting for them at the “great firehouse in the sky”, kicking back telling stories with all our other brothers and sisters who have gone there also. I know this happened quite a while ago my friend, but every time I read the story, it touches me! I will never forget about your sacrifice!

  51. WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » WLA’s Last-Gasp-of-Summer Reading List Says:

    [...] $21 million to fight, with that dollar amount still rising. Worse, it has cost us the lives of two deeply admired firefighters (I will have another story about Ted Hall, Arnie Quinones, and the Mt. Gleason Camp situation next [...]

  52. WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » Ted Hall, Arnie Quinones & Camp 16: Part 2 – the Inferno Says:

    [...] has already been reported, here and elsewhere, that Quinones and Hall helped save the lives of the 55 inmates and three CDCR staff [...]

  53. Day 30: ridgeline to north fork ranger station – Ellie Harmon Says:

    [...] first thing we came upon was a really amazing and sobering memorial to two firefighters from Camp 16 who died in the fire — a journal for each one with a note asking passers by to [...]

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