Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chantry Flat Fire - Day 4

Seems like good news this morning. Yesterday, we awoke to the strong smell of smoke and ash. This morning, clear and quiet.

I hiked up to the Sierra Madre Debris Basin staging area this morning. This photo, taken a little before 7 am, is looking east from the dam. That's part of Upper Hastings on the ridge with the debris basin and dam in the foreground. And the sun streaming through. We'll hope for news that the fire is over.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chantry Flat Fire Day 2 -- Staging Area

One of the helicopter staging areas is at the Sierra Madre Villa Debris Basin west of upper Hastings and north of the golf course. The top picture shows the whole operation with fire hose leading out to the dam above the basin, helicopters, a fuel truck on the right and LA County fire trucks in the foreground. The second and third photos show helicopters on the approach and landing. The last shot shows the water source being used to fill the helicopters. Hundreds of yards of hose runs from the dam, over the road, around a house, and across another road to tie into a hydrant on Old House Rd.
Watching the fire fighters work has been amazing. They've got four or five helicopters going today and they've been going straight since about 6 this morning. I've never seen helicopters maneuver like these do. The pilots land near the fuel truck if they need fuel, then lift off slightly and move down the dam to where the water hose is to get filled with water. Then they take off and return minutes later for more. All of this somehow coordinated with four or five helicopters working at the same time. I was talking to one of the crew and he said these pilots are so skilled they can pull their helicopters up sharply to actually throw their load of water forward. The whole operation is very impressive.
At about 1 pm, the fire seemed just behind the ridge that is visible in the third picture. I saw a plane dropping red fire retardant along the top of the ridge. Hopefully the fire can be stopped there.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Chantry Flat Fire

Smoke over rooftops is a scary site in southern California foothills. This smoke is from the fire that broke out about 2 pm today at Chantry Flat north of Arcadia. News reports are saying about 25 acres have burned and they expect containment by this evening.
An LA County firefighting crew set up a staging area at the heliport just west of upper Hastings Ranch and behind the golf course. I hiked up to watch the crew run hoses out to the heliport where two helicopters landed to get filled with water, took off to drop on the fire and then returned minutes later to get refilled.
Update: We heard the helicopters working from about 2 pm right up to nightfall. They ran nonstop trying to put this fire out. But, it is 10 pm now and the fire has spread westward. From our east Pasadena neighborhood, we can now smell the smoke and see flames on the ridge above Sierra Madre.
High today was 94 degrees, far above the average of 76 for this date. Still a little off of the record high which was 100 set in 2004, but the heat has to be making it harder to stop this fire. It is supposed to be hotter tomorrow. I've read where helicopter water drops will resume at daybreak.

Garden Shots on a Sunny Day

With the warm weather, we've had some great times building a garden this year. These are some of the things our five year old daughter noticed while wandering the yard. The top photo is an apple blossom on a young tree we planted this year. In the middle is Matty prowling near the hose. And the bottom shot is my favorite photographer. Great stuff.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Alligator Lizard

My son caught this alligator lizard in our backyard. These lizards are reportedly common to our area, but not often seen. They get their name because they look kind of like alligators, are good swimmers and have notoriously bad dispositions. They like to bite and often twist their body like an alligator when they do. They also have really long tails which causes them to slither as they run.