By Mary Lynch
There are two main takeaways from the large brush fire in Eagle Rock and Glendale on August 25.
First, hundreds of firefighters are to thank for the fact that no one was hurt and no homes were lost.
Second, the fire could have been much worse. Firefighters are the first to say they had a powerful assist from nature on August 25: There was little wind to fan the flames. Next time could be different. Looked at that way, the fire is an urgent reminder to residents and community and elected leaders to do more to prepare for wildfire.
Thanks to the firefighters
The LAFD report issued the day of the fire sticks to the facts, but the can-do heroism of firefighters shines through: Responding to a report of a brush fire shortly after 4 p.m., LAFD firefighters found an acre of brush burning near the transition roads of the 2 and 134 Freeways in Eagle Rock. As they were readying the water supply to extinguish the flames, an ember jumped across the 134 Freeway, creating a new spot fire and triggering an immediate request for more resources.
The fire quickly grew to Major Emergency status, involving ground crews from LAFD, Glendale Fire, Angeles National Forest and L.A. County, as well as six helicopters making continuous water drops as the fire burned uphill toward some 100 homes in Glendale.
By 7:30 p.m. the fire’s forward progress was halted. Homeowners in Glendale who had been evacuated returned to their homes around 10 p.m. Crews remained on the scene overnight, extinguishing hot spots. At 3 p.m. on August 27, LAFD reported the fire as 100% contained.
In all, the fire consumed some 45 acres.
Preparing for the next fire
The neighborhoods of Northeast L.A. are in or surrounded by “very severe hazard” fire zones.
Individuals and families can prepare with the help of videos and brochures in the Ready, Set, Go! series developed by L.A. City and County fire departments: https://www.lafd.org/safety/education/ready-set-go.
All residents age 18 and older should take training in disaster preparedness from the LAFD. Classes are offered for free during the year at locations throughout Los Angeles. For more information and to sign up, visit: www.cert-la.com. (“CERT” stands for Community Emergency Response Team.)
Communities as a whole also need to prepare. The fire on August 25 resulted in snarls of traffic throughout Eagle Rock. The jam was an indication of how difficult it would be to evacuate NELA in an emergency. Fire officials recommend that individuals not only map out, but also drive their escape routes routinely, so that the routes become second nature. Community leaders and transit officials also need to prioritize evacuation routes when planning any road or transit reconfigurations.
As of press time for this edition of the Boulevard Sentinel, the cause of the fire on August 25 was still under investigation. When the cause or causes are known, the findings may also point to corrective actions for the community to undertake.
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