This is just my opinion, but people need to stop setting Los Angeles on fire. My neighborhood is burning down again. They’re evacuating Los Feliz. Everything is barackaded up to three blocks north of my house. I feel safe for now because the evacuees are being kept in the highschool on my street.
I blogged about the fire in my neighborhood last month, as well as the drug bust the month before. So this should be another typical day in Los Angeles. But I’ve never watched a mile long wall of fire sweep down a hillside.
Some friends and I got some Del Taco and some beers and walked to the Los Feliz overpass. I regret not having my camera, but found these on flickr. Each photo is linked to that user’s flickr page for attribution. Here is the view from the overpass.
Apparently the fire was set by a homeless man who fell asleep while smoking. Deer and Coyotes have been spotted fleeing the park.
We watched, transfixed, as flames shot 60 – 100 feet in the air. The air is hot and smoky, and my eyes are still burning from the heat and ash. Raging tornadoes form in the heat, shooting columns of fire, smoke, and cinders hundreds of feet in the air – it’s one of the most incredible things I’ve seen in my life.
The tornadoes shoot up one after another and spin around the hillsides, a hundred feet in diameter and just swallowing everything in a whirling inferno. The embers seem to spin at hundreds of miles per hour. The crowd gasps in wonder like it’s the Fourth of July firework display. We sit along the cement ground of the Los Angeles river sharing beers and cellphone cameras. Strangers feel comfortable talking with one another. I meet my friends and neighbors, people from college, and get text messages from all over the city. I feel a part of Los Angeles.
The police shut down Los Feliz boulevard to use as a fireroad. They are organized and efficient, and Los Angelinos pump their fists in support as the firetrucks thunder past. 75 fire companies have responded so far – we saw trucks from as far away as Monrovia. The helicopters fill their water tanks in Silverlake reservoir, then thunder over my house to make dangerous water dumps into the massive wall of flames.
Squadrons of police cars – 30 at a time – more than I’ve ever seen at one time, sweep through the streets shutting off traffic. They order everyone off the streets. Los Feliz Boulevard is a 6 lane thoroughfare that connects with the 5 Freeway, but tonight it is a fire road for the hundreds of firetrucks. And hopefully a fire wall to protect greater Los Feliz. The LAFD is trying to save the Griffith Park Observatory which just completed years of restoration. Those guys are going to have a tough night.
One of my roommates packed her belongings and left to go stay with her mother. The flames are a good half-mile away and I’m going to wait it out.
Update 1:30am My roommate took this video of one of the fire-tornadoes and placed it on a friend’s website. They were launching every minute or so. She also took this video of the inferno from Los Feliz boulevard. Mayor Villaraigosa is stationed on my street, so I’m assuming things are safe. Boing Boing (a directory of wonderful things) reported looting, but I think things seem orderly. The LA Times Blog has good coverage.