Bears and Alligators Environment Life and Life Only

Fire Weather – Day 2 – UPDATED


MONDAY – UPDATED: The winds shift,
evacuation orders come and go, and fires all over Southern California still rage out of control. An astonishing two-hundred and fifty thousand people have been forced out of their homes in San Diego alone, one person is dead, dozens injured, 130 837 dwellings and businesses have burned, 600 of them in San Diego, with thousands more in danger. hundred and ten Close to four hundred square miles of Southern California land has burned.

AS OF MONDAY NIGHT, the Malibu fire has gone from 10 percent
contained, down to 8 percent, with winds blowing north.

In Topanga, we are still here, still fine, still under temporary evacuation orders except for one area of lower Topanga,
where leaving may mandatory, although no one seems quite sure. All the valuables at my house are still packed by the door. The cat knows something is up and has been complaining bitterly. (The dog is more philosophic.)

This morning, the Malibu fire (or what they’re calling the Canyon Incident fire, not exactly a snappy title), was on the move with approximately 1400 firefighters making their stand at Rambla Pacifica (below) as the fire pushed eastward, toward Tuna Canyon and Topanga. At that time, it was declared 10 percent contained, “but still we have terrible conditions,” said LA County Fire Inspector, Ron Haralson. “To get a handle on this we need a break in the weather.” And that isn’t expected until Wednesday.


The next “trigger point” for the Malibu fire said LA County Fire inspector,
Frank Garrido, is Los Florez Canyon. “When it hits Las Florez, it’ll trigger another whole group of evacuations.”

All morning and into the noon hour,
the fire moved steadily toward Las Flores. But, suddenly, just about 12:30 pm, as the so-called trigger point was about to be breeched— meaning mandatory evacuations of Big Rock, Tuna Canyon, and lower Topanga—the winds shifted again.

After that, instead of moving down the coast, the fire marched up the mountain toward Piuma,
and Schoeren Roads near Saddle Peak, where a brand new set of mandatory evacuations were called around 1:30 pm.

With things so uncertain, last night, most Topanga people moved their horses and other large animals out of the canyon. This included Molly Hogan of the non-profit Wildworks, an animal rescue group up the road from me. Molly has a couple mountain lions, a gray wolf, several African servils, an extremely cute baby gray fox, and a bunch of other felines and assorted critters, plus some horses she’s rescue.

At Pierce college, horses were being brought in all night-–My neighbor, Rebbecca, was busy gathering, loading and transporting around 46 of the neighborhood equines, until after 1 am last night. This was an eventful endeavor. For instance, Henry, the rescued former Santa Anita racehorse, now owned by Antonia, the voice-over actress, was horrified at the notion of getting in the borrowed trailer so took off down the road and hid unhappily behind some bushes, until Antonia managed finally to coax him out.

I wish I could give you the personal stories of all of the horse owners gathered last night. None are wildly wealthy. Most are simply working people who love critters. More than not, the horses that they care for have been in some way or another rescued. (Yes, we’re bleeding heart liberals in Topanga, and the bleeding heart thing includes horses.)


NOTE: For lists of mandatory and voluntary evacuations in the Topanga/Malibu area
and most in between, go here. (The LA Times is not as accurate.)

This evening, I spoke to Frank Garrido again, who is now working on the Agua Dulce fire. That one at least, he says, is 30 percent contained.

The news from Malibu fire is not anywhere near as upbeat. As I said at the beginning, tonight at the Malibu firelines,
the progress is moving backward—from 10 percent back to eight.

In the meantime, in Topanga, we wonder if we should pack more, or leave it be and hope that the fire goddess is kinder to us than those hundreds of now-homeless people in San Diego. We have no television, so we aren’t temped to stare at the mesmerizing images of destruction up and down the state. (The TV went out yesterday.)

Even the coyotes are quiet tonight. Like us, they’re hunkered down, tired and waiting—-for the wind to abate, for the smoke to clear. Waiting for the fire, if we are lucky, not to come.


POST SCRIPT: Be sure to read my pal Marc Cooper’s rundown on what the truly hideous
CNN talking head, Glenn Beck, said about the fires. Color me speechless with fury.


(Photo of planes dropping fire retardant on the hills above Malibu by Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times; Horse photos at Pierce College Barn by Doreen Clay; Rambla Pacifico, AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)


  • Wow. Thanks. It is really good to “hear your voice.” Appreciate the link for evacuations; you’re right the LA Times wasn’t much help. Tipped a Moose Drool in your honor. YAY, Montana. That’s pretty good beer. Continue to hold you, your critters, your friends and neighbors, and all their assorted critters in my thoughts. Here’s hoping the wind-brakes engage soon!

  • Off subject of all the fires in Southern Calif.

    The reason is, “There is no right way to do the wrong thing.” Homeboys’ practice of giving criminal gang members jobs, education, and respect without FIRST requiring that they totally “jump out” or disavow their gang membership, has NOT reduced gang activity in LA, because it’s wrong in principle. It is the most misleading and harmful message you can send gang members.It suggests that moral lives can be built on immoral foundations. It reinforces the false belief that gang members’ problems are caused by lack of education, jobs, money, or by a tough home life. These challenges are effect — not cause. Gang members’ problems are caused by nothing but their commitment to an evil, mutant lifestyle that abandons moral/spiritual values and sanctions racist, violent, promiscuous behavior.

  • LA Res,

    Yeah, I saw it. We have 40 thousand gang members in LA—give or take. Paul White deals with 25—who are, by and large, kids skating the edge of gangs. Nonetheless, it sounds like his school, West Valley Academy, does a great job with the kids it attracts. It’s tiny. But what the heck. He makes a difference in the lives of those 25 kids. And that’s a wonderful thing. We could use 100 more schools like it across the city.

    Gang violence, however, is a big, bad, complex problem that needs all hands on deck if we’re to get a handle on it.

    What’s infuriating about White’s essay, is that he’s throwing rocks at targets he’s set up himself, simply so he could knock them down. He clearly doesn’t know sh*t about Homeboy Industries and how it operates. If he’d ever bothered to walk in there and spend time, he’d never have written such medacious crap.

    Homeboy doesn’t co-sign on gang membership. EVER. Good lord, Father Greg has, at last count. buried 154 young men and women killed by gang violence. He will be the first to say that nothing—NOTHING—brings more sorrow and terror to this city than gangs. And every one of those deaths has taken a piece out of his heart. I’ve watched it happen.

    Look, I know scores of people who are alive, thriving and productive today because Greg reflected back to them that they were worth more than the worst thing they ever did. And eventually they were able to see it too and to find in themselves decency and honor—against ferocious odds.

    It’s shameful that White—a guy who runs a good program that works well for one kind of population—in order to aggrandize himself (and to sell his book), gets up on some moralistic high horse and throws rocks at anybody that doesn’t do it exactly his way.

    Arrogant self-promoters who can’t play well with others are not what this city needs to address the violence that blows unbearable holes in LA’s families and communities daily, weekly, yearly.

  • Well, thank goodness the folks in California are smarter than the people of New Orleans and will not rebuild in their disaster areas, known for fires, mudslides, and earthquakes. Otherwise, they would continue putting our public safety employees at risk in the future and continue to cost taxpayers to protect people and property in dangerous areas that should be returned to nature.

    Glenn Beck is not a spokesman for anyone but himself, and his remark doesn’t come close to the outrageous ones made by liberals who hate America. I’m so tired of feigned outrage, raised by those who would attempt to smear a political party and a major segment of our population, over an isolated comment.

  • Isn’t it interesting how, in Woody’s world, comments by the likes of Beck are always “isolated” incidents, yet “outrageous” comments by liberals aren’t?

  • “Well, thank goodness the folks in California are smarter than the people of New Orleans and will not rebuild in their disaster areas, known for fires, mudslides, and earthquakes.”

    Woody’s right. Celeste, you must be pretty stupid and inconsiderate to consider living in such a dangerous area, and like the Katrina victims, you shouldn’t start whining when your house burns down. What did you expect?

  • Joseph, I let Celeste worry about the human interest stories while I worry about solving the business ones. It’s not a personal reflection that I make but rather one on 100,000+ people who bought or constructed homes in unsafe areas. Our local government forbids construction within floodplains, so it’s not too much to ask people to not build or rebuild in areas where there are recurring natural disasters and where their construction adds to the problems. It’s also time to consider how many of these fires could have been avoided had there not been interference by so-called environmentalists who oppose regular controlled brush burning.

    Also, I really get tired of liberals pulling out the “victim” cards and saying that we don’t have a right to question people who are victims. That goes from the 9-11 widows for Democrats, feeble nursing home residents used for social security politics, 12 year old girls with wealthy parents who want taxpayers to pay their health care, the Cindy Sheehan’s who lost kids in the war, etc. Being a “victim” doesn’t make someone right or entitle those who use them to get a free pass on their politics.

    Kevin, outrageous comments by liberals are, in fact, the rule. Do you want a scorecard to prove it?

  • Woody, who said anything about not questioning the victims? On the contrary, I agree with you that people like Celeste were wrong (or very foolhardy) for living in a home in an unsafe area. As you say, just because she’s a potential victim, doesn’t mean she gets a free pass for doing something stupid. I’m actually supporting your point–you’re absolutely right to criticize her. If her house burns down, she should accept the responsibility that it was her choice to live in an unsafe area, and not look to blame anyone else for taking this risk. You and I are on the same page in that respect.

  • If you’re going to try to keep people from living in places in this country with a decent chance of a natural disaster, you may as well abandon the whole country.

    There is nowhere in the USA that is immune from all of these:

    earthquakes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, extreme heat, extreme cold, volcanoes

    Samuel, it’s a good thing people in this country are far more compassionate than you are, because if you’re ever the victim of a natural disaster, and your attitude rules the day, you’re fucked. And it would serve you right.

  • Woody, all a sorecard would show is that both liberals and conservatives make idiotic comments. Your act that innocent conservatives are the victims of an unrelenting series of vicious attacks by liberals is tiresome.

  • Thanks Kevin and RP…

    And, oh, horse pucky, Woody and Samuel. By your logic we should clear out half the states of Montana and Idaho because people had the nerve to build near (gasp, choke, wheeze) trees. And screw those Kansas folks who live where there might be twisters. And, while we’re at it, lets empty Missouri, which—not California—had the biggest, baddest earthquake in the history of the lower 48. (What’s wrong with those Show Me state morons living on that time-bomb of a fault line?) And Florida, Texas and all those other Gulf Coasters, no more post Hurricane FEMA for them, by gum!

    Hey, listen: I do believe that some of these developments, or folks who build the McMansions without regard for the ecology into which they’re placing their homes, are arrogant with their disregard of the cyclical actions of nature.

    I live in Topanga Canyon, love it, and if I wasn’t willing to deal with occasional threats of natural disasters I wouldn’t be here. (Those living in less rural areas have to deal with…you know…crime.)

    Yet, we are fanatical about brush clearance up here. We have a large volunteer arson watch. On my property alone, I have a large, free-standing water tank—that’s there for fires only—plus a hydrant, plus ceiling sprinklers, plus my yard is landscaped entirely with drought tolerant, fire-resistant plants. (Okay, there are all my roses, which aren’t all that drought-tolerant, but they don’t burn either.) There were two pine trees, and they are history because they’re too damned flammable. (And I live in a small house, so don’t get confused here.)

    Furthermore, we have a community emergency system in place that is—I’m serious about this— considered one of the models in the nation.

    About controlled burns: we do NOT oppose them at all (except done badly, they can take out a canyon, which two nearly did here. But they didn’t, so it’s all good.)

    In fact, around five years ago, I made a point of speaking IN FAVOR of controlled burns at a huge federal meeting in Glacier Park, where the red-staters opposed them. I told them once they’d lived through a big fire they’d change their minds. And after the monster fires of 2003 rolled through Flathead Valley, MT, those folks became believers too.


    OKAY. RANT FINISHED. I feel much better now.

  • Celeste, there’s no problem living in high-risk areas as long as special and adequate provisions are made to deal with those risks. I didn’t mention you specifically, but that’s what you focused on.

    What about the other 99,999+ people who haven’t? Do they have water tanks for fires, sprinkler systems, yards cleared of flamable brush, locations and anchors to survive mudslides, foundations that are earthquake-proof, etc.? Obviously not.

    People in New Orleans who rebuild in what was previously a swamp or below sea level are crazy and should not have been given permits to do that. People who rebuild in L.A. need to find safer areas or spend the money necessary to make their houses resistant to natural risks.

    Trying to compare parts of California to other states, particularly those with non-predictable tornados, is simply deflecting responsibility rather than dealing with it. Trying to compare housing deficiencies to deal with nature to families dealing with man-made crime is a non-starter. We can and should lock-up criminals. Maybe you can suggest how to lock-up fires and earthquakes.

    I’m sympathetic to you and others on a personal level. However, taken as a whole, the area has known about fire risks for decades and still has substantial losses from them. So, on the greater level, I’m saying that enough is enough and that changes must be made for the future.

Leave a Comment