Dad and Mom post about the "Station Fire"

Wednesday Sept. 2, 2009, 3:20 PM

Well, we are finally back in our home.

I woke up at about 5:00 AM on Saturday, and although there did not seem to be any immediate fire danger, the smoke and ash were very thick. As the sun came up, the falling ash looked like grey snow, and it was difficult to breathe..  Finally about 7:45 AM I woke Robin, and told her we had to get out of here.

We threw a few things in the car, along with the two dogs and the cat and drove up to our place in Lake Arrowhead.  We were already gone, but apparently, a mandatory evacuation notice was issued about 11:00 AM, and the sheriffs came by and told everyone to leave. 

We don't have a landline phone at Arrowhead, so no internet, but we kept in touch with cell phone.  Our son Greg (who lives in Humboldt County) started monitering the internet and keeping us informed.  He started a blog listing all the internet sites concerning the "Station Fire," including the City of La Canada Flintridge site which has an active website that has been updated hourly with detailed information as to closures and evacuations.  Some of the news reports and the website updates were getting their information off Greg's blog--pretty funny, since he lives almost 700 miles away. 

We were also kept up to date via cell phone connection with a few neighbors, some of whom stayed at their homes in spite of the mandatory evacuation orders.  We are very indebted to them and their willingness to share their "on-the-site" observations. \

At about 5:30 PM last evening, it came over the radio that the mandatory evacuation notice had been lifted.  Unfortunately, our cat had decided that the bedspread made a much more attractive place to do his business than the litter box, so when the notice was announced over the radio, we had just put the huge bedspread and the sheeets in the washing machine at the laundermat.  The washing, rinsing and drying cycle takes over an hour, and it takes another half hour to get back to our home at Arrowhead, and then two hours to drive back to La Canada. 

So, we decided to stay there last night, and come home this morning.  Unfortunately, when we were ready this morning to come home, the Damn cat couldn't be located.  He finally came back about 1:00 PM, and we drove home and arrived about 3:00 PM.

It is nothing short of miraculous.  There are almost sixty houses in our neighborhood, all of them backed up to the Angelus National Forest, AND NOT ONE SINGLE HOUSE WAS LOST.

The fire burned down to within a few feet of the landscaping, but was stopped, not only before it burned our house, but stopped before it burned our landscaping--Amazing!!!  Even our pine trees were saved. 

Everything is a mess.  A thick layer of ash covers everything.  Our pool is black with ash and soot.  The house reeks of smoke, but there is no permanent damage.

Anyway, that's the latest report on the Gehr saga--we're all fine, and our house is fine, as are the houses of all our neighbors.  God was keeping watch over us--and so were the heroic firemen who risked their lives to save our property. 

Bill & Robin 

Thank You!

(Fire Info Links are in the next post down!)

While the Station Fire rages on, it has passed on through our neck of the woods, and my efforts maintaining the links on the Fire posting of this blog will be decreasing.  I do intend on leaving up the fire info posted, as an informational resource for others that are still dealing with the Station fire. The links are very relevant for each of the affected communities still in the path of the fire.

The evacuation notice has been lifted for my parents' neighborhood, and they are back home.  Unfortunately, Mom says that there were 4 or 5 looters discovered on the hill when residents started coming back.  Fortunately, law enforcement has already caught a couple of them.  They did not get my parents house, but some neighbors were not so lucky.

The backyard burned almost up to the retaining wall around the patio, but the house survived just fine.  The firefighters had moved all the patio furniture, BBQ's , etc around to the side of the property, away from the house and heat, and had worked hard to make sure that they did not damage anything.  Most of the larger trees had been "lollypopped" (lower branches removed) by my parents a while ago, and so, survived because the fire could not get established in them.  There are about 59 houses at the top of the hill  Virtually all of the homes back yards border on the canyon or National Forest.  Almost every home had fire come within 20-50' of the house, yet not a single structure was lost.

I would like to take a moment to thank all the firefighters, law enforcement personnel, city, county, state, and federal employees, and the residents and businesses and other volunteers of the local communities who all pulled together to make it through this disaster.   I also want to thank many of the folks on-line who, although I have never met them face to face, are becoming good friends, and helped me to develop the informational links in my blog, promote the resource to others, and kept me on top of what was happening in my childhood town so far away. 

Special thanks go to twitter peeps, @benboychuk, @PEP010, @philhulett, @indie_press, @thereallacanada, @Moeskido, @pixelesh, @gwc11713, @hanineal, @foleypod, @mdstorlie, @nanther, @macgenie, @JamesProps, @bobmorse, @indexing, @k8jonez, @clarikim, @LA_Fires, @cyndie23, @theappgirl, @lamaupin, @heathercollins, @dzurillaville, @wildfireviewer, @AllHitman007, @Jeffpfile, @ddwheeler27, @SamWickersham, @denagirl626, @susankitchens, @rehi, @akitchen, @brianwatkins, @khabalox,  and most of all @vurayav, @ifipaan, @lauria, @joeepheremal, @christylb65 and @wasabineko all of whom either provided information, retweets, link posts, and/or encouragement while I was vicariously living through this fire on Twitter, and developing this list of fire link resources.

Finally, I especially want to remember Captain Ted Hall and Fire Fighter Specialist Arnie Quinones, who were killed in the Mt. Gleason area on Sunday while fighting this fire.  My condolences and sincere thanks go to their families for the efforts of these two individuals who gave their lives trying to save the lives and property of others.


La Canada Fire (also called "Station Fire") threatening homes, causing evacuations

Photo by k8jonez: Oceanview near Foothill - border between La Canada and La Crescenta

Please note, this post is now closed.  However, most of the links are to dynamic information sources that update periodically, and can still be of great value to anyone trying to stay on top of the fires.

I have tried to move links to photos, videos, and news articles that are "static" to the next post down, , and have labeled the time and date to next to most of the news links.

I started this list because my parents live in La Canada, and I was (and continue to be) worried from the other end of California.  It was very hard to find a good source of fairly current information about this fire, and I have never been one to sit quietly and do nothing, so I decided to aggregate my own sources of info, and they have proved useful. Whether you live near the fires, or have friends or family that do, I hope that this information will be of some use to you too.




Here is the layout that I am using to monitor twitter for up to date info on the fire (lots of pics too).  I think that this tweetgrid is the best source of raw, up to the minute information that I have found, give it a try! 

I have been asked what search terms are used for the columns in the link, above (which you should feel free to modify).

They are:

1. La Canada OR Flintridge

2. La Crescenta OR Tujunga OR Sunland -handyman (the "-handyman" switch eliminates some annoying twitter spam)

3. "Angeles National Forest" OR "Station Fire" OR "Angeles Crest"

4. Altadena

Likewise, there is an updating graphics engine at Twitcaps that will present you with photos and videos from around the web.  I am using the search term "La Canada", please modify it to your town or even "station fire" for slightly different results.

KNX1070 has streaming audio available and is doing fantastic job of covering fire, very current info. (and, it even works on my mac!)

KABC is a great source of streaming video, @wilw (author/director/actor Wil Wheaton) on twitter sez "Thank you to @abc7 for being the ONLY local station covering the huge brushfire that's threatening homes in La Crescenta, where I grew up."

Live fire and police radio frequencies can be monitored streaming over web here (try the feeds with the most listeners first)

La Canada Flintridge city website has fire updates. Looks like they're posted hourly (mostly):

Insightful and information-rich blog of the fire from a firefighter's perspective.  Great maps and satellite imagery.

Angeles National Forest Incident Information System -

Aggregated data collected by the Los Angeles Times and displayed in Google Maps

Mount Wilson Observatory Webcam (west view), LIVE! Updated every two minutes.

Mt Wilson Observatory Blog, lots of fire updates from their perspective:

ENPLAN Wildfire viewer, Interactive California Wildfire Map, fed by MODIS satellite data (Heat detect data updates received from satellites every 6 hours and it refreshes map data hourly.).  Go to search box on right about half way down screen, enter zip for La Canada 91011) and the sat. map will zoom to a < script src="" type="text/javascript"> prox area of fires.  Then go to "hybrid" view to get street overlay, and zoom in on fire area(s) of interest

The LA County Fire Department website with tips for evacuations and safety during fire storm situations.

City of Glendale Emergency Opera tions Center fire information (lists evacuation info for La Crescenta):

Altadena blog begins to track fire updates as fire spreads in that direction.  They have redirected a weathercam toward the approaching fire.

Directory of Glendale blog starts tracking fire updates:

"The Real La Canada" friend feed is collecting information and stories about the fire from locals, check it out at

Another good list of resources, photos, and other information about the Station Fire from Susan Kitchens at 2020 Hindsight:

Excellent article about the the effects of this and other fires on the local residents by Kathy Kristof of CBS Moneywatch

This is Station Fire:

8/31/09 NEW LINKS:

As the fire spreads, there are new links that may begin to contain relevant information to those tracking the fires, such as:

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff incident news web site:

LA County Fire Department information:

LA County Department of Public Works, Road Closure Info:

Phil Hulett of KFWB is back on the job, get breaking fire updates at

TCN North Now: news about Glendale, Crescenta Valley, Burbank and La Cañada - summarizes some good local fire news coverage:


***Please note, this post is now closed.  However, most of the links are to dynamic information sources that update periodically, and can still be of great value to anyone trying to stay on top of the fires.


This blog post is now closed.  No more news updates will be posted, but the list will remain up for archival purposes.

Live News videos from La Canada 8/28/09, Friday morning:

9:15pm, 8/27 thru 12:15am, 8/28/09 - KCHBlog brings us an excellent set of 3 photos, taken from the corner of Chevy Chase and Foothill, showing the progression of the La Canada "Station" fire over a three hour period, 

9am 8/28.09 - Pasadena Star News confirming KFWB reports that firefighters have lost all containment on La Canada Flintridge "Station Fire" - as of this report, there were 750 fire personnel fighting the Station Fire, one air tanker, four helicopters and as many as sixteen engines.

Noon, 8/28/09 Photos: The Station Fire Nearing La Canada Flintridge

2:42pm 8/28/09 - Los Angeles Times Local reports "La Cañada fire spreads toward Altadena; Big Tujunga Canyon Road closed",

6:38pm 8/28/09 Los Angeles Times Local reports "Firefighters battling La Cañada Flintridge fire on two fronts" and states "the La Cañada Flintridge foothills (has had) 1,200 acres burned and the fire (is) just 10% contained" ... "Mandatory evacuations were ordered for nearly 900 homes, and more than 600 were threatened this afternoon, officials said."

11pm 8/28/09 "Mandatory evacuations were ordered just before 11 p.m. Friday for residences on Greenridge Drive, Forest Green Drive, Ridge Court and Starlight Crest Drive, Big Briar Way, La Canada Boulevard north of El Vago Street, Hacienda Drive, Linda Vista Drive, and Alta Canyada Road as fires in the area continue to rage out of control." (KABC)

7:35am 8/29/09 "Mandatory evacuation notices issued to residents of La Cañada Flintridge" Pasadena Star-News

8am 8/29/09 Los Angeles Times Local: "La Cañada fire spreads in three directions, forcing more evacuations [Updated]"

8:45am, 08/29/09 "They are ordering mandatory evacuations everywhere east of Alta Canada (which as you may remember is near where the freeway dumps onto foothill Blvd.)  and North of Green Street (which is about 1/2 mile above Foothill Blvd) I still don't think we are in any immediate fire danger, but the smoke is so thick you could cut it with a knife.  Fire engines now  coming up and parking near top of Ocean View Blvd., waiting and watching hillside"  (emailed report from my father on western edge of La Canada).

Noon, 8/29/08 Damn it! The fire is worsening minute by minute.  The mandatory evacuation area is expanding rapidly, and extends all the way to the western edge of La Canada (top of Ocean View/eastern edge of Pickens Canyon.)   The homes most at risk first are the ones at the northernmost tops of the streets running into the foothills. KTLA does an excellent job of summarizing developments here:,0,5292469.story

12:30pm, 8/29/09  evacuation order description at:

3:11pm 8/29/09 evacuation order description UPDATED (now includes parts of Glendale, La Crescenta and Altadena)

8/29/09 Current air quality data information map from

5:30pm 8/29/09 Just spoke with Mom.  She has cell of neighbor that did NOT evacuate (do not try this at your home), and so Mom asked how her house was doing at the top of Ocean View.  The neighbor walked a block or two up to the house, and reported seeing fire partially encircling house, was burning back of property adjacent to National Forest property line, helicopters were dumping water directly on house and property, and a pumper was positioning out front as helicopter flew away.  

(I asked what the officials said as they saw a private citizen walking around after mandatory evic. order was issued, and Mom said they just took his name for ID purposes, told him it was in case they needed to ID his body later.).  

These firefighters deserve medals!

late afternoon 8/29/09 Video shot from Foothill Blvd. looking north, near intersection of Ocean View and Foothill.

10:00 pm 8/29/09 The city web site now lists some areas where mandatory evacuation is lifted and residents (only) may return to their homes. Go to the latest "Station Fire" update.

10:09pm 8/29/09 Firefighters expecting the worst in Briggs Terrace neighborhood in northeastern La Crescenta:

10:30pm 8/29/09 Latest evacuation notices:

8:30AM 8/30/09 Latest evacuation notices:

Google Map showing La Crescenta fire evacuation and road closure information

8/30/09 La Crescenta Briggs Terrace residents defy evac. orders, stay and fight fire all night long.

8/30/09 LA Times Local article with specific information about fire fight in Paradise Valley subdivision at top of Ocean View last night.

And, another great LA Times Local article detailing the overall fire situation and containing specifics about the fire fight at the top of Ocean View and Pickens Canyon area:,0,5964757.story

11:59pm 8/30/09 Pasadena Star News reports Station fire within half mile of Mt. Wilson communications equipment:

6am 8/31/09 Fire flares back up in La Crescenta, new evacuations ordered in the area located off of Rosemont , La Crescenta and Ramsdell and north of Rockedell, Pineridge, Mountain Pine and Markridge Road. Specific info from COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Office of Emergency Management:

8am 8/31/09 Summary of school closures by KNX1070:

noon, 8/31/09 Summary of evacuations and road closures by KNX1070:

12:32pm 8/31/09 Los Angeles Times Local reports Firefighters creating fire break at Briggs Terrace in La Crescenta:

"and now, the rest of the story..."  La Canada Country Club explains water issue:

9:48pm 8/31/09 Los Angeles Times Local reports "Some officials say spread of Station fire appears to be slowing"

9am 9/2/09 Latest evacuation information from the La Canada Flintridge City Website Station Fire update (also has La Crescenta info): \

9am 9/2/09 Los Angeles Times Local reports Altadena still at risk,

The Air Quality Management District has informed the the public that smoke from the Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest has caused Unhealthy to Hazardous air quality at times in the San Gabriel Mountains (Area 15).  Very high concentrations of fine particulates are occurring in areas of direct smoke impacts near the fire, especially the foothill communities of Altadena, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Tujunga, Sunland, Montrose, Altadena and Acton. Everyone should avoid physical activity in areas heavily impacted by smoke. 

This blog post is now closed.  No more news updates will be posted, but the list will remain up for archival purposes.

Buddy Brown Blues Festival a Rousing Success!

I am proud, (as a member of the mysterious P3LF), to announce that the Blue Lake Blues Society, (an unorganized disorganized chapter of the Humboldt Folklife Society), has earned $3,977 from the donations and net revenues of the Buddy Brown Blues Festival held on August 8, 2009. These funds are to support the Humboldt Folklife Society's "Folk People" childrens music program (please recite this paragraph 5 times, as quickly as you can).
It was a great day, wonderful weather, 7 fantastic local blues bands, and one of the best, if not the best of the last nine festivals.  Special thanks to the Blue Lake Casino for their reoccurring support of this event.
See you all next year!

North Coast Music Together

Recently, my child, Jay (age 3) and I went to a demo class for “North Coast Music Together” (NCMT), a “community of families sharing songs, instrument play, rhythm chants, and movement in a relaxed, playful and non-performance-based setting”.  It is for infants through toddlers, along with active parent participation.

This is the second attempt at a formal “music appreciation” class for my musically interested kid.  Our first attempt was at the HSU Music Academy.  

I also know one of the instructors, I assisted Jose on some of the technical design and installation aspects of the Digital Pathways video project for youth in Humboldt County.  He exudes the same boundless energy teaching 3yr olds that he does creating innovative Workforce Investment Act projects.

We start classes in the upcoming fall session.