California aflame! September 22 - October 4, 1970


Phillips, C.B.

State of California, Resources Agency, Department of Conservation, Division of Forestry

1971


From September 22 to October 4, 1970, fire raged through more than half a million acres of brush and forest in California's wildlands. Thirteen days of uncontrolled flames - flames which killed people - consumed hundreds of homes built in or adjacent to the wildlands - damaged thousands of other structures. Thirteen days of disaster. California Aflamel Destructive forest, brush, and grass fires occur every year in California. Although such fires can and do happen in every month of the year, the most crucial part of the fire season is generally from May through November. During a relatively few days of that season, fuel and weather conditions are often so critical that small fires escape to become large, destructive conflagrations. The 1970 fire disaster was unique in modern times, primarily in terms of geographical area involved, total acreage burned, the wildland-urban nature of the fires, and the large number of agencies, people, and equipment involved. Not since the Bar Harbor Fires in Maine in 1947, perhaps, has such a widespread disaster of similar nature occurred. Control of California's 1970 catastrophe depended upon the nationwide depth of the United States Forest Service, the statewide depth of the California Division of Forestry, and execution of the State Fire Disaster Plan under which men and equipment from many communities converged upon the various fires, providing assistance to local firefighting forces. This story describes the disaster and the organized mutual effort necessary to combat it.

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STATE
OF
CAI...WORN/A
THE
RESOURCES
AGENCY
DEPARTMENT
OF
CONSERVATION
DIVISI
LAME!
-
.3.
''••,
-
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1970
rr
"N.
4.
State
of
California
Resources
Agency
Department
of
Conservation
DIVISION
OF
FORESTRY
CALIFORNIA
AFLAME!
SEPTEMBER
22
-
OCTOBER
4,
1970
Clinton
B.
Phillips.
Assistant
Deputy
State
Forester
TABLE
OF
CONTENTS
Page
Introduction
1
Summary
of
the
Disaster
3
The
Wildland
Fire
Problem
in
California
5
Fuels
5
Topography
7
Fire
Weather
7
Fire
Weather
Conditions
Leading
to
the
Disaster
10
The
Fire
Disaster
12
September
22:
Fire
in
the
Oakland
Hills
12
September
23
and
24:
A
Period
of
Comparative
Lull
14
September
25:
Southern
California
Erupts
in
Flame
16
September
26:
The
Laguna
Fire
Starts
in
San
Diego
County
18
September
27:
The
Inferno
Spreads
19
September
28:
The
Disaster
Reaches
its
Peak
24
September
29
and
30:
The
Situation
Improves
Slightly
25
October
1:
The
Devil
Winds
Return
26
October
2
and
3:
The
End
is
in
Sight
28
October
4:
The
Last
Large
Fire
is
Contained
28
Response
to
the
Disaster
31
General
Plan
of
Response
31
United
States
Forest
Service
32
California
Division
of
Forestry
34
California
Office
of
Emergency
Services
and
Local
Governments
37
Contract
County
Fire
Departments
40
Los
Angeles
County
41
Ventura
County
42
Kern
County
43
Military
Forces
45
Air
Attack
47
National
Weather
Service
52
Law
Enforcement
Agencies
54
Fire
Information
Services
56
Public
Utilities
57
Relief
Agencies
and
Volunteer
Services
58
The
Aftermath
63
Rehabilitation
of
Burned
Wildland
63
Task
Force
on
California's
Wildland
Fire
Problem
65
A
Look
Back
and
a
Look
Ahead
67
Literature
Cited
69
Appendix
A
-
Total
Wildland
Fires
and
Acreage
Burned
in
California,
September
22
-
October
4,
1970
70
Appendix
B
-
Large
Wildland
Fires
(300
acres
or
larger)
that
Occurred
in
California,
September
22
-
October
4,
1970
71
Appendix
C
-
Small
Wildland
Fires
(less
than
300
acres)
that
destroyed
homes
in
California,
September
22
-
October
4,
1970
73
PREFACE
"California
Aflame!"
is
a
description
of
the
large,
destructive
wildland-urban
fires
which
occurred
in
California
from
September
22
to
October
4,
1970.
It
is
also
the
record
of
the
strenuous
effort
to
suppress
those
fires.
The
story
is
a
documentary
--you
may
find
it
long
and
detailed.
Hopefully,
every
reader
will
gain
the
sense
of
what
happened
during
that
fiery
catastrophe
of
1970
through
scanning
the
Introduction
and
Summary.
Beyond
the
Summary,
the
individual
reader
may
wish
to
study
only
those
portions
of
the
story
which
specifically
interest
him.
The
Table
of
Contents
should
assist
in
this
endeavor.
Naturally,
not
even
in
a
document
of
this
length
can
one
find
all
details
of
the
many
events
that
occurred
or
all
the
statistical
data
related
to
the
fire
activity.
Those
readers
wishing
further
information
about
a
particular
subject
are
asked
to
contact
the
author.
If
he
doesn't
have
the
answer,
he
will
direct
the
inquirer
to
the
proper
source.
The
author
is
indebted
to
the
writings
and
counseling
of
many
people
for
the
facts
described
in
this
documentary.
Much
information
was
obtained
by
interviews
with
individuals
of
many
agencies
who
played
key
roles
in
the
1970
fire
disaster
activity.
To
name
all
these
individuals
for
their
valuable
assistance
would
require
more
space
than
is
available
here.
Special
thanks
must
be
given,
however,
to
Mark
Schroeder,
Research
Meteorologist
with
the
U.
S.
Forest
Service's
Riverside
Forest
Fire
Laboratory
for
supplying
most
of
the
information
and
all
the
diagrams
on
fire
weather
contained
in
the
two
chapters,
"Fire
Weather
Conditions
Leading
to
the
Disaster"
and
"The
Fire
Disaster";
to
Rex
Griggs,
Fire
Prevention
Officer
for
the
California
Division
of
Forestry's
Southern
California
District,
for
his
fire
summary
bulletins
which
supplied
almost
instant
information
to
news
media
and
to
firefighters
during
the
height
of
the
fire
activity;
to
the
several
newspapers
which
supplied
photographs
and
much
valuable
information
contained
in
the
report;
to
Lee
Burcham,
John
Hastings,
Howard
Moore,
and
Rex
Griggs,
all
employees
of
the
California
Division
of
Forestry,
who
critically
edited
the
report
and
added
to
its
accuracy
and
readability;
and,
finally,
to
the
several
typists
who
patiently
remained
loyal
through
so
many
reworkings
of
the
report
and
who
undoubtedly
must
have
become
ill
at
the
sight
of
such
words
as
"disaster,"
"destructive,"
and
"rampaging
conflagrations."
Clinton
B.
Phillips
Assistant
Deputy
State
Forester
California
Division
of
Forestry
ii
INTRODUCTION
From
September
22
to
October
4,
1970,
fire
raged
through
more
than
half
a
million
acres
of
brush
and
forest
in
California's
wildlands.
Thirteen
days
of
uncontrolled
flames
-
flames
which
killed
people
-
consumed
hundreds
of
homes
built
in
or
adjacent
to
the
wildlands
-
damaged
thousands
of
other
structures.
Thirteen
days
of
disaster.
California
Aflame!
Destructive
forest,
brush,
and
grass
fires
occur
every
year
in
California.
Although
such
fires
can
and
do
happen
in
every
month
of
the
year,
the
most
crucial
part
of
the
fire
season
is
generally
from
May
through
November.
During
a
relatively
few
days
of
that
season,
fuel
and
weather
conditions
are
often
so
critical
that
small
fires
escape
to
become
large,
destructive
conflagrations.
The
1970
fire
disaster
was
unique
in
modern
times,
primarily
in
terms
of
geographical
area
involved,
total
acreage
burned,
the
wildland-urban
nature
of
the
fires,
and
the
large
number
of
agencies,
people,
and
equipment
involved
(Fig.
1).
Not
since
the
Bar
Harbor
Fires
in
Maine
in
1947,
perhaps,
has
such
a
widespread
disaster
of
similar
nature
occurred.
Control
of
California's
1970
catastrophe
depended
upon
the
nationwide
depth
of
the
United
States
Forest
Service,
the
statewide
depth
of
the
California
Division
of
Forestry,
and
execution
of
the
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan
under
which
men
and
equipment
from
many
communities
converged
upon
the
various
fires,
providing
assistance
to
local
firefighting
forces.
This
story
describes
the
disaster
and
the
organized
mutual
effort
necessary
to
combat
it.
A
short
version
of
the
story
may
be
found
in
the
U.
S.
Forest
Service's
attractively
written
and
illustrated,
"Devil
Winds
--1970"
(1).
1/
1/
Underlined
numbers
in
parentheses
refer
to
LITERATURE
CITED
on
page
69.
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SUMMARY
OF
THE
DISASTER
It
all
started
when
a
man
set
his
match
intentionally
to
tinder
-dry
grass
along
the
Fish
Ranch
Road
in
the
hills
behind
Oakland.
Within
minutes
flames,
feeding
on
dry
coyote
brush
and
pine
trees
and
whipped
by
a
strong
northeast
wind,
swept
to
the
ridgetop
and
leaped
into
homes
perched
on
the
steep
hillside
above
San
Francisco
Bay.
In
less
than
two
hours
fire
completely
destroyed
36
homes,
badly
damaged
37
others,
and
desolated
230
acres
of
valuable
watershed.
Fortunately
-
and
almost
unbelievably
-
the
flames
took
no
human
lives
(Fig.
2).
.4
1
•40
0
-
1
111111P-
-
-
Fig.
2
Fish
Fire
TheThe
statewide
disaster
ended
--slowly,
stubbornly
--when
the
Fire
Boss
of
the
34,000
acre
Meyers
Fire
in
southern
California
determined
his
fire
had
been
wholly
surrounded
by
a
line
cleared
of
flammable
fuel
.
Between
the
start
of
the
Fish
Fire
and
containment
of
the
Meyers
Fire
were
thirteen
days
of
severe
peril
and
trial
to
the
people
of
California.
It
was
a
time
of
extreme
drought
--little
or
no
rain
had
fallen
since
mid
-March.
A
time
of
low
humidity
-
usually
below
10
percent
and
occasionally
only
1
and
2
percent.
A
time
of
extreme
heat
-
temperatures
soared
above
100
degrees
for
several
days
on
end.
A
time
of
strong,
gusty
winds
-
they
blew
for
most
of
the
thirteen
3
days,
frequently
at
velocities
of
80
miles
per
hour.
During
this
time
773
separate
wildfires
burned
nearly
580,000
acres
of
grass,
brush,
and
timber
covered
wildlands
throughout
California.
(The
burned
area
equaled
a
strip
of
land
more
than
a
mile
wide
stretching
diagonally
from
the
Oregon
border
to
the
Mexico
border.)
The
fires
completely
destroyed
722
homes
when
they
burned
isolated
residences
or
spread
from
the
hills
into
urban
communities.
Sixteen
lives
were
lost,
attributed
directly
to
the
fire
activity.
Suppression
costs
and
damages
together
were
estimated
at
233
million
dollars.
Potential
damage
from
winter
floods
and
soil
erosion
could
add
many
millions
of
dollars
in
damage.
While
it
was
a
time
of
disaster,
it
was
also
a
time
of
triumph
for
human
resourcefulness,
engineering,
and
compassion.
Under
provisions
of
the
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan,
professional
firemen
from
hundreds
of
county,
city,
and
community
fire
departments
joined
the
wildland
fire
protection
forces
of
the
California
Division
of
Forestry
and
the
U.
S.
Forest
Service
for
a
common,
organized
effort.2/
Firemen
and
equipment
converged
on
the
fires
from
many
directions,
assisted
by
other
government
agencies,
private
organizations,
and
various
industries.
Private
individuals
worked
separately
and
also
combined
into
impromptu
groups
to
aid
the
destitute
and
to
assist
firemen
on
the
line.
Here
there
was
no
generation
gap:
"long
hair"
worked
side
by
side
with
"short
hair"
and
"hard
hats";
young
and
old
found
a
cause
in
which they
could
join
harmoniously.
This
great
human
phalanx
which
stood
against
a
tenacious
enemy
had
its
rewards.
Of
the
773
forest,
brush,
and
grass
fires
that
occurred
during
the
thirteen
days
of
disaster,
only
32
escaped
early
suppression
efforts
to
become
"large"
-
that
is,
300
acres
or
larger.
These
32
fires
accounted
for
93
percent
of
the
total
acreage
burned
and
89
percent
of
the
homes
that
were
completely
destroyed.
Considering
the
extreme
burning
conditions
that
existed,
damages
could
have
been
much
greater
if
more
of
the
741
"small"
fires
had
escaped.
As
it
was,
the
combined
efforts
of
the
people
of
California,
working
through
formal
channels
of
mutual
aid
agreements
and
informal
channels
of
spontaneous
volunteer
service,
undoubtedly
saved
thousands
of
acres
of
valuable
watershed
land,
thousands
of
homes,
and
millions
of
dollars
of
potential
damage.
California's
fire
disaster
in
the
late
summer
of
1970
was
costly
in
many
ways.
It
could
have
been
much
worse.
What
happened?
What
caused
the
fires
to
burn and
to
destroy
as
they
did?
What
is
the
nature
of
the
cooperation,
the
readiness
plans, and
the
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan
that
assured
prompt
attack
on
the
fires
by
a
large
number
of
independent
fire
departments
and
public
agencies?
How
did
the
people
of
California
work
together
in
a
common
cause?
What
lessons
were
learned
that
may
prevent
or
minimize
future
disasters
of
this
kind?
These
and
other
questions
are
explored
in
some
detail
in
this
report
for
two
important
reasons:
(1)
A
civil
disaster,
regardless
of
cause,
can
happen
anywhere,
anytime;
and
(2)
similar
burning
conditions
will
occur
again
in
California,
just
as
they
have
in
the
past.
2/
Firemen
may
be
broadly
categorized
as
"structural
firemen"
-
employed
by
city
or
county
fire
departments,
legal
fire
districts,
volunteer
departments,
or
privately
-owned
fire
departments
primarily
to
protect
buildings
from
fire;
and
"wildland
firefighters"
employed
by
federal,
state,
or
local
governmental
agencies
or
by
private
concerns
to
protect
forest,
brush,
and
grass
covered
watershed
lands
-or
wildlands--from
fire.
The
California
State
Division
of
Forestry
and
the
so-called
"Contract
Counties"
of
Kern,
Los
Angeles,
Marin,
Santa
Barbara,
and
Ventura
provide
fire
protection
to
most
of
the
privately
-owned
wildlands
In
the
state.
The
U.
S.
Forest
Service,
U.
S.
Bureau
of
Land
Management,
and
National
Park
Service
provide
fire
protection
to
most
of
the
federally
-owned
wildland.
Privately
-owned
wildland
within
the
National
Forests
Is
protected
by
the
U.
S.
Forest
Service
under
contract
to
the
state.
5
THE
WILDLAND
FIRE
PROBLEM
IN
CALIFORNIA
California
experiences
large,
destructive
wildland
fires
almost
every
year.
The
state's
environmental
conditions
all
add
up
to
a
recipe
for
fiery
disaster:
continuous
expanses
of
highly
flammable
brush
and
other
vegetation;
rugged
terrain;
long
arid
summers;
dry
north
and
east
winds
during
the
critical
part
of
the
year;
and
a
population
that
insists
on
seeking
living
space
and
recreation
in
nature's
beautiful
but
hazardous,
flammable
wildland.
The
state's
geography
contributes
much
to
the
fire
problem
(Fig.
3).
California
is
third
in
size
among
the
states,
only
Alaska
and
Texas
being
larger.
Its
158,693
square
miles
is
roughly
equivalent
to
the
area
of
the
eight
northeastern
states
(including
Pennsylvania
but
not
New
Jersey)
or
the
combined
area
of
Ill
inois,
Indiana,
Ohio,
and
West
Virginia.
Between
its
borders
with
Oregon
and
Mexico,
California
stretches
more
than
700
latitudinal
miles,
roughly
equal
to
the
distance
across
Illinois
and
Wisconsin
or
from
the
south
border
of
Georgia
through
Maryland.
The
state's
west
coast
enjoys
the
cooling
influence
of
the
Pacific
Ocean;
to
the
east
it
faces
the
dry
deserts
of
the
Great
Basin
-
indeed,
nearly
a
quarter
of
the
state's
land
area
is
in
desert.
This
large
land
area,
complicated
by
a
rugged
mountainous
terrain,
often
means
long
travel
time
for
firefighters
responding
to
wildland
fires
and
complicates
the
problem
of
containing
wildfires
in
their
initial
stages.
It
also
means
a
wide
range
of
climatic
and
vegetative
types,
varying
from
the
moist
redwood
forests
of
northwestern
California
to
the
dry
Mojave
Desert
mesquite
in
the
southeastern
part
of
the
state.
While
one
section
of
the
state
may
be
experiencing
a
raging
wildfire
under
hot
and
dry
conditions,
another
part
may
be
receiving
rain
or
snow
or
be
bathed
in
coastal
fog.
The
wildland
fire
problem
is
reflected
in
the
budgets
of
those
governmental
agencies responsible
for
protecting
the
state's
61
million
acres
of
wildland
from
fire.
Each
year
about
one-third
the
total
expenditures
for
fire
protection
on
privately
-owned
wildlands
in
the
United
States
is
made
by
state
and
local
governments
or
by
private
parties
in
the
State
of
California.
In
addition,
the
U.
S.
Forest
Service
allots
about
40
percent
of
its
nationwide
budget
for
fire
protection
to
the
National
Forests
in
Cal
ifornia.
To
understand
the
necessity
of
these
expenditures,
one
must
understand
the
elements
that
contribute
to
the
start
and
spread
of
wildfires
in
California
and
also
recognize
the
threat
that
such
wildfires
pose
to
life,
property,
and
natural
resource
values.
Forest,
brush,
and
grass
fires
burn
according
to
a
complex
set
of
physical
and
chemical
laws.
The
principal
ingredients
are
fuel
(the
living
and
dead
vegetation
that
covers
the
wildlands),
topography,
and
weather.
Fuels
Only
14
percent
of
California's
land
area
is
occupied
by
cities
or
by
agricultural
crops.
Another
25
percent
is
in
desert
or
in
barren
mountain
areas
high
above
timberline.
The
6
•••
i
r
\
ti
_
j
\
„Jo.
,
141(•1•11..
Fig.
3
Planimetric
Map
of
California
remainder,
some
61
percent,
is
mountains
and
hills
covered
by
timber,
woodland,
brush
or
grass.
All
this
wildland
vegetation
reaches
some
degree
of
flammability
during
the
dry
summer
and,
under
the
right
weather
conditions,
during
winter
months.
The
drier
the
fuel
,
the
more
readily
fires
ignite
and
spread.
The
greater
the
accumulation
of
dead
fuels
in
proportion
to
living
fuels,
the
greater
will
be
the
fire's
intensity.
Adding
to
the
complexity
of
the
wildland
fire
problem
are
the
many
subdivisions,
individual
homes,
and
recreational
developments
located
in
the
hills
and
mountains.
People
build
homes
7
there
because
it
is
more
attractive
than
living
in
urban
cubed
conformity.
Unfortunately,
despite
recent
efforts
by
state
and
local
governments
to
apply
fire
safety
regulations
to
such
homesites,
wildland
residents
rarely
prepare
for
the
inferno
that
can
sweep
through
volatile
brush
and
timber
and
consume
their
homes
in
minutes.
More
often
than
not,
firefighters
find
themselves
having
to
protect
homes
and
other
buildings
while
the
wildfire's
perimeter
spreads
rapidly
out
of
control
involving
many
additional
structures.
The
problem
is
a
major
one.
Topography
California's
rugged
topography
(Fig.
4)
has
considerable
effect
on
wildland
fire
behavior
and
on
the
ability
of
firefighters
and
their
equipment
to
take
suppression
action
on
those
fires.
The
northern
two-thirds
of
the
state
has
large
areas
of
steep
mountainous
terrain.
The
Great
Central
Valley
forms
the
only
major
area
of
flat
land
in
the
state.
To
the
east
of
the
Valley
lie
the
Cascade
and
Sierra
Nevada
Ranges,
rising
to
more
than
14,000
feet;
to
the
west
are
the
lower
mountains
of
the
Coast
Ranges
which
continue
into
southern
California.
The
mountains
are
slashed
by
deep
canyons
with
vertical
sides
which
often
rise
2,000
feet
or
more
to
the
ridges.
This
rough
topography
greatly
limits
road
construction
and
road
standards,
and
hence
accessibility
by
ground
equipment.
Initial
attack
travel
time
from
suppression
station
to
fire
may
often
exceed
three
hours
by
road
and
trail
.
3/
Such
rough
topography
also
channels
air
flow,
creating
extremely
erratic
winds
on
lee
slopes
and
in
canyons.
Fires
starting
in
the
bottom
of
a
canyon
may
rush
quickly
to
the
ridge
and
become
large
before
initial
attack
forces
can
arrive
-
simply
because
of
topography.
Fire
Weather
California's
Mediterranean
climate
(cool
,
moist
winters
followed
by
long,
dry
summers)
is
the
delight
of
tourists
but
the
bane
of
wildland
firefighters.
Total
winter
precipitation
(snow
and
rain)
is
greatest
in
the
northern
part
of
the
state
and
in
the
high
mountains
where
timber
grows.
Rainfall
decreases
sharply
with
a
drop
in
elevation
from
the
mountains
to
the
lower
foothills
and
valleys;
it
also
decreases
latitudinally
from
northern
to
Southern
California.
The
lesser
rainfall
supports
a
growth
of
brush
in
the
interior
foothill
areas
of
Northern
California
and throughout
most
of
southern
California.
The
dry
summer
is
accompanied
by
relatively
3/
"Initial
attack"
refers
to
the
first
men
and
equipment
sent
to
a
reported
wildland
fire
for
the
purpose
of
"suppressing"
(controlling
or
extinguishing)
it.
8
'ilk-
yr&
t
iON1`
4
t\
:71\
.Z.‘„cr,;-•
s'•
Fig.
4
Physiographic
Map
of
California
high
air
temperatures
and
low
humidity
(dry
air)
away
from
the
immediate
coastline.
The
long
rainless
periods,
heat,
and
dry
air
combine
to
draw
the
moisture
out
of
the
large
accumulations
of
dead
fuel
and
place
living
vegetation
under
increased
moisture
stress.
The
most
important
weather
element
is
wind.
It
supplies
fresh
oxygen
to
a
wildland
fire;
bends
flames
forward
into
new
fuels
so
that
fire
spreads
more
quickly;
and
carries
flaming
brands
perhaps
miles
ahead
of
the
main
front
so
that
the
fire
advances
in
a
leap
-frog
fashion.
9
The
prevailing
wind
in
California
generally
blows
from
west
to
east,
bringing
marine
air
from
the
Pacific
Ocean
to
the
interior
valleys
and
coastal
mountains.
This
general
wind
pattern
is
modified
locally
by
topography.
Occasionally,
and
especially
between
September
and
May,
a
high
pressure
ridge
may
move
inland
over
the
Great
Basin
area
while
a
low
pressure
trough
lies
along
the
length
of
California.
At
these
times
air
flow
is
reversed,
with
the
wind
blowing
generally
from
east
to
west
in
southern
California
and
from
northeast
to
southwest
in
northern
California.
Dry
air
moves
into
the
state
from
the
high,
inland
plateau
at
great
speeds,
often
exceeding
100
miles
per
hour
through
the
mountain
passes.
As
the
air
descends
to
the
coast,
it
also
warms
and
becomes
even
drier,
dessicating
the
wildland
fuels.
Air
temperature
rises
sharply
along
the
coast.
In
southern
California
these
easterly
winds
are
given
a
special
name:
"The
Santa
Anas"
or
"Devil
Winds."
Occurrence
of
the
dry
north
or
east
winds
in
combination
with
a
winter
drought
can
mean
a
12
-month
wildland
fire
season
in
California.
This
occurs
rather
commonly
in
southern
California
where
firefighters
sometimes
spend
Christmas
on
the
fireline.
In
their
potential
effect
on
the
start
and
spread
of
wildland
fires,
these
weather
elements
are
commonly
unfavorable
in
California.
In
1970
the
combined
effects
of
fuel
,
topography,
and
weather
were
especially
bad.
All
that
was
needed
was
the
addition
of
fire
-starting
ignition
sources
by
man.
10
FIRE
WEATHER
CONDITIONS
LEADING
TO
THE
DISASTER
Firemen
found
themselves
confronting
an
abnormal
number
of
wildland
fires
through
the
early
summer
months
of
1970.
Through
concerted
and
cooperative
effort,
they
managed
to
control
the
fires
at
less
than
the
five-year
average
in
both
acreage
burned
and
damages
created.
Still
,
they
knew
conditions
were
such
that
a
critical
weather
change
might
result
in
a
conflagration
anywhere
in
the
state
(8).
Precipitation
was
only
one-fourth
to
one-half
of
normal
west
of
the
Sierra
Nevada
crest
for
the
six
months
preceding
September
22,
1970
(Fig.
5).
Living
fuels
had
abnormally
low
moisture
content.
Small
dead
fuels
(dry
grass,
twigs,
and
leaves)
were
at
the
explosive
stage;
large
dead
fuels
(logs,
limbs,
fallen
trees)
had
dried
out
more
than
usual
for
that
time
of
year.
By
the
end
of
September
the
"Timber
Buildup",
a
cumulative
numerical
index
used
by
forest
firefighters
to
measure
the
relative
amount
of
moisture
in
the
large
dead
fuels,
ranged
from
127
percent
of
the
13
-year
average
in
the
central
Sierra
Nevada
Mountains
to
275
percent
in
the
redwood
and
Douglas
-fir
timber
of
northwest
California.
The
figure
was
193
percent
in
the
mountains
of
southern
California.
Air
temperature
had
also
been
above
average
in
many
parts
of
the
state
(Fig.
6).
Red
Bluff,
in
north
central
California,
had
117
days
with
temperatures
of
90
degrees
or
above
by
the
end
of
September,
a
new
record
for
that
location.
MO"
4
1
7.
1.
-
1.1
-
ti
te
d
1
52
<
ZO%
0150-100%
100%
4.
.4;
I.
fl
Lb•
-.44
4
.
40
7
+.71:
Ja
414
-*'
d
e'
4.5.4
0.77271
A
bore
tiormol
Fig.
5
Percent
of
Normal
Precipitation
Fig_
6
Temperature
Depareure
from
fifornml
April
September
7970
April
September
1970
11
J90
72
163
155
252
201
213
284
258
195
215
204
3
"
238
224
283
325
2e7
190
52
197
169
IV
264
296
282
222
241
Dry,
warming
east
and
northeast
wind
had
moved
into
California
on
an
excessive
number
of
days
during
the
late
winter
and
spring
months
of
1970,
nullifying
the
beneficial
effects
of
early
winter
rains.
During
early
September,
the
wind
again
returned
an
abnormal
number
of
times.
The
integrated
effects
of
drought,
low
humidity,
high
air
temperature,
and
high
wind
velocity
are
measured
and
cumulated
through
the
fire
season
and
expressed
as
a
"Fire
Weather
Severity
Index."
This
index
for
the
last
of
September
was
above
the
13
-year
average
for
all
areas
of
California
except
a
small
section
just
north
of
Death
Valley
on
the
east
side
of
the
Sierra
Nevada
Mountains
(Fig.
7). Most
areas
in
the
state
were
200
to
400
percent
of
average
and
a
few
were
400
to
600
percent.
The
stage
for
disaster
had
been
set.
Wildland
firefighters
in
California
knew
they
were
sitting
on
a
time
-bomb
that
had
been
ticking
away
since
the
last
significant
rainfall
in
mid
-March
of
1970.
Their
minds
returned
to
1967.
.
.1964.
.
.1961.
.
.1955.
..
and
other
years
when
similar
conditions
had
produced
large,
destructive
wildland-urban
fires.
There
was
no
question
that
a
fire
disaster
could
occur.
The
only
questions
were,
"Where?
When?".
188
244
210
140
106
mg
249
273
97
88
223
285
308
646
204
224
168
170
200
258
282
321
328
126
120
222
274
362
97
819
55
200
3%
228
262
337
247
32
277
224
282
264
325
242
385
262
3,
210
433
155
189
550
94
4043
326
471
375
278
234
3-yy
323
279
378
35.
216
"
3
326
312
4M
3
Fig.
7.
Percent
of
normal
Fire
Weather
Severity
for
period
September
21-30,
1970
12
THE
FIRE
DISASTER
September
22:
Fire
in
the
Oakland
Hills
On
September
21
a
high
pressure
ridge
of
air
had
started
moving
into
the
Great
Basin,
creating
a
drying,
off
-shore
wind
along
much
of
the
California
coast
(Fig.
8).
By
early
morning
of
the
22nd
most
of
California
was
feeling
the
effects
of
these
winds
(Fig.
9).
In
the
Oakland
and
Berkeley
Hills,
winds
were
clocked
at
20
to
50
miles
per
hour,
relative
humidity
fell
to
12
percent
and
temperature
rose
to
85
degrees.
It
was
10:25
a.m.
The
time
had
come.
1016
1020
1024
1016
1024
1020
a
cr
z
0
1016
1012
HIGH
10
25
1008
Fig,
8.
Surface
weather
map
for
September
22,
1970
-
0500
PDT
10
20
1020
1016
1012
1008
13
9/20/70
1700
9/21/70
9/21/70
9
/
2
2/70
0500
1700
0500
9/2V70
9/23/70
9/23/70 9/24/70
1700
0600
1700
0600
9/24/70
J
9/25/70
9/25/70
/9/26/70
1700
0500
1700
0500
#
4
1700
70
1
29/70
0
70
9050
0
/27/70
1700
70
9
0500
70
F
9/28/70
9/50030/70
9/29/700
9
/
5
00
1700
0
The
place
was
the
Fish
Ranch
Road,
on
the
east
side
of
the
ridge
that
marks
the
boundary
between
Contra
Costa
County
to
the
east
and
Alameda
County
(and
the
City
of
Oakland)
to
the
west.
It
was
here
that
a
young
man
intentionally
ignited
the
grass.
As
he
sped
from
the
scene
in
his
car,
the
flames
took
hold,
then
licked
greedily
upslope
through
the
brush
and
on
over
the
ridge
into
the
pine
trees
and
expensive
homes
on
the
Oakland
side
(4).
While
the
Fish
Fire
in
the
Oakland
Hills
was
not
the
first
nor
the
largest
wildland
fire
to
start
that
day
of
September
22,
it
was
the
first
to
involve
many
homes
and
to
become
a
.disaster
to
hundreds
of
people
(Fig.
2).
In
respect
to
fire
weather
and
fire
behavior
it
resembled
the
great
Berkeley
Fire
of
September
17,
1923,
which
blackened
a
72
-block
area
in
the
adjacent
City
of
Berkeley
and
destroyed
900
homes.
Larger
fires
occurred
that
day
in
Humboldt
County
in
the
northwest
corner
of
the
state,
in
Yolo
and
Stanislaus
Counties
in
the
central
part,
and
in
Riverside
County
in
southern
California
-
all
burning
under
the
same
extreme
weather
and
fuel
conditions
(Appendix
B).
Recognizing
these
severe
conditions
and
the
potential
threat
they
posed,
fire
control
administrators
cancelled
days
-off
for
all
California
Division
of
Forestry
employees
and
recalled
off
-duty
personnel
.
The
same
actions
would
be
taken
for
firefighters
of
other
agencies
throughout
the
state
in
the
days
to
come.
In
addition,
outdoor
burning
permits
were
cancelled
in
the
Division's
North
Coast
and
Central
Coast
Districts.
Shifting
of
men
and
equipment
around
the
state
had
started.
On
that
September
22,
firemen
from
more
than
a
hundred
departments
had
a
sampling
of
the
holocaust
yet
to
come.
September
23
and
24:
A
Period
of
Lull
Dry
north
and
east
winds
decreased
in
speed
to
some
extent
in
the
most
critical
fire
areas
on
September
23
and
early
on
the
24th;
temperatures
dropped
slightly,
but
air
and
fuel
remained
dry
(8).
The
Clarks
Butte
Fire
in
Humboldt
County
continued
to
spread
through
brush
and
valuable
pine
and
fir
timber
unti
l
it
was
finally
contained
at
3,395
acres
on
the
25th.
The
Corona
Fire
in
Riverside
County
also
was
stubborn
but
was
finally
picked
up
on
the
24th.
Elsewhere
in
the
state,
many
other
fires
started
but
were
caught
in
the
initial
attack
stage
by
firemen
determined
to
keep
the
critical
situation
under
control
.
On
September
24,
the
National
Weather
Service's
fire
weather
forecast
for
southern
California
said
in
part,
"A
Red
Flag
warning
for
Santa
Ana
winds
late
tonight
and
Friday.
Tonight:
Santa
Ana
winds
northerly,
30
to
50
miles
per
hour,
beginning
higher
levels
and
passes
in
northern
portion
of
district.
Friday:
Santa
Ana
winds
moderate
to
strong
at
high
levels
and
in
and
below
passes.
Outlook
for
Saturday:
continued
Santa
Ana
winds
and
warmer.
Fire
danger
expected
to
be
very
high
to
extreme
on
Friday."
Each
day
the
Western
Fire
Weather
Coordinator
of
the
National
Weather
Service
prepares
a
rough
estimate
of
the
fire
danger
in
the
western
states
and
makes
a
prediction
for
the
15
following
day
from
information
supplied
by
fire
weather
forecasters
in
the
districts.
Ratings
are
given
from
"1"
("Low"
fire
danger)
to
"5"
("Extreme"
fire
danger).
Figure
10
is
a
copy
of
the
chart
prepared
September
24
predicting
the
fire
danger
on
the
25th.
A
Red
Flag,
such
as
is
shown
in
the
"Extreme"
area
in
California,
is
used
only
in
very
critical
situations.
Needless
to
say,
the
Red
Flag
warning
was
justified!
1
Red
Flag
5
Fig.
10.
Fire
Danger
Forecast
for
September
25,
1970.
16
September
25:
Southern
California
Erupts
in
Flame
Santa
Ana
winds
came
to
southern
California
as
predicted
and
persisted
until
the
29th.
Winds
reached
hurricane
speeds
of
80
miles
per
hour.
Humidities
dropped
as
low
as
2
percent;
temperatures
soared
upward
into
the
90's
at
some
stations
along
the
coast
to
over
100
degrees.
Similar
dry
and windy
conditions
had
returned
to
northern
California
as
well
.
Easterly
winds
were
clocked
at
80
miles
per
hour
in
areas
east
of
Red
Bluff.
While
fires
continued
to
start
in
the
critical
northern
part
of
the
state,
the
principal
activity
now
shifted
to
southern
California.
Dispatchers
in
southern
California
recall
how
little
traffic
there
was
on
the
radios
early
on
September
25.
They
say
the
firemen
seemed
to
be
like
sprinters
in
their
blocks
who
had
taken
a
long,
deep
breath
and
were
awaiting
the
shot
of
the
pistol
in
the
hand
of
the
starter.
The
wind
increased
in
velocity.
It
seemed
to
suck
every
bit
of
moisture
from
the
air
and
from
the
wildland
fuel
that
lay
waiting
for
a
spark
to
ignite
it.
Then
all hell
broke
loose!
The
Devil
Wind
lived
up
to
its
name.
At
9:55
a.m.,
in
southern
San
Diego
County
adjacent
to
the
Mexican
border,
an
ember
from
an
abandoned,
smoldering
campfire
jumped
the
confines
of
a
narrow
scratch
-line
and
was
blown
into
parched
grass.
At
first,
just
a
wisp
of
whitish
vapor
rose
from
the
grass,
then
an
explosive
flash
of
yellow
flame.
The
fire
grew,
spread
rapidly
ahead
of
50
mile
per
hour
wind
into
tinder
-dry
brush,
roared
toward
Tecate
Peak
Lookout,
and
turned
southeast
into
Mexico.
The
International
Fuelbreak,
running
more
or
less
parallel
to
the
border
with
Mexico,
helped
hold
the
fire's
north
flank
and
guided
it
away
from
valuable
watershed
land
on
the
California
side
of
the
border.
Within
moments,
the
fire
suppression
system
came
alive.
The
California
Division
of
Forestry
dispatcher
at
Monte
Vista,
using
a
planned
dispatching
sequence,
sent
initial
attack
suppression
units
on
their
way.
Within
an
hour
and
a
half
the
fire
had
grown
to
about
700
acres.
This
was
the
beginning
of
a
busy
10
days
in
southern
California.
Soon
many
fires
were
being
reported
in
San
Diego
County
and throughout
the
south
part
of
the
state.
Local
fire
control
forces
were
already
being
stretched
thin
by
mutual
aid
requests
(Fig.
11).
Air
tankers
were
used
at
first
to
drop
chemical
fire
retardants
in
an
effort
to
stop
the
fires
at
small
acreage.
By
noon,
however,
these
aircraft
were
forced
to
remain
on
the
ground
because
the
wind's
gale
speed
and
turbulence
made
dropping
from
100
to
200
feet
above
the
rugged
terrain
too
dangerous
a
mission.
A
valuable
fire
control
tool
had
been
lost
temporarily.
At
10:30
a.m.
in
Riverside
County
another
campfire
was
struck
by
the
Devil
Wind
and
carried
into
nearby
brush
and
grass;
that
night
the
flames
would
be
stopped
just
short
of
expensive
homes
on
the
outskirts
of
Redlands.
17
Vir
t.
Fig.
11.
Action
on
the
Casco
No.
2
Fire
in
Riverside
County.
Photo
courtesy
of
Riverside
Press
-
Enterprise.
One
minute
later,
some
80
miles
to
the
west,
an
excited
citizen
drove
into
the
Los
Angeles
County
Fire
Department's
Station
125
and
reported
a
fire
starting
along
the
Ventura
Freeway
near
Las
Virgenes
Road.
A
full
brush
fire
response
was
started
at
once.
But
even
as
Fire
Company
125
pulled
out
of
the
station,
the
men
could
see
what
was
happening.
Within
five
minutes
they
were
radioing
to
headquarters,
"Fire
going
good.
Fifty
acres
already.
Send
10
more
companies"
Q.
The
Wright
Fire
had
begun
its
journey
of
destruction.
It
soon
developed
into
a
tornadic
fire
storm,
propelling
dense
clouds
of
pre
-heated
flammable
gases
across
roads
and
firebreaks
where
they
mixed
with
gusts
of
fresh
air
and
exploded
in
brilliant
balls
of
flame.
The
fire
roared
downslope
through
dense,
heavy
brush
and
trees
toward
fashionable
Malibu
Beach
lying
in
wait
on
the
shore
of
the
Pacific
Ocean.
Twenty-five
miles
north
of
where
the
Wright
Fire
started
and
some
20
minutes
later,
the
howling
wind
-
now
gusting
at
velocities
up
to
75
miles
per
hour
-
blew
down
a
power
line.
Sparks
crackled
in
the
dry
grass,
and
flames,
spurred
by
the
wind,
leaped
forward
like
a
team
of
spirited
stallions.
Within
hours
the
Clampitt
Fire
would
hurdle the
Golden
State
Freeway
and
race
southward
through
Chatsworth
to
join
with
the
Wright
Fire.
It
would
also
turn
west
into
Ventura
County
and
eventually
link
with
the
Guiberson
Fire
in
the
Simi
Valley
(7).
18
More
fires
started
that
day
in
southern
California:
The
Bailey,
Foothill
,
Agua
Dulce,
and
the
El
Toro;
al
l
became
large
and
destructive
(Fig.
1).
There
were
also
numerous
small
fires
caught
by
initial
attack
forces
which
rushed
from
one
blaze
to
the
next
without
adequate
time
to
perform
thorough
jobs
of
"mopping
up"
the
embers
behind
them.
Soon
it
became
evident
that
local
forces
could
not
wholly
handle
the
sudden
flurry
of
fire
activity.
The
California
Division
of
Forestry's
Southern
California
District
Office
in
Riverside
requested
assistance
from
the
State
Forester's
Office
in
Sacramento.
At
about
the
same
time,
the
Los
Angeles
County
Fire
Department
and
the
Ventura
County
Fire
Department
asked
both
the
California
Division
of
Forestry
and
the
California
Office
of
Emergency
Services
to
provide
needed
help.
Having
already
been
alerted,
it
was
but
a
matter
of
minutes
before
firetrucks,
bulldozers,
Conservation
Camp
hand
crews,
and
air
tankers
were
heading
south
from
northern
California
to
aid
the
beleaguered
forces.
Because
the
fire
disaster
was
reaching
such
widespread
proportions
and
involved
the
firefighting
apparatus
of
so
many
separate
fire
departments,
there
was
need
for
a
coordinating
body.
Therefore,
in
accordance
with
the
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan,
Region
1
GHQ
was
established
at
Los
Angeles
County
Fire
Department
Headquarters
(6).
In
the
wake
of
the
fire
disaster
and
total
commitment
of
state
forces,
Governor
Reagan
applied
for
federal
assistance
from
the
Office
of
Emergency
Preparedness.
As
a
result
of
this
application,
the
state
received
considerable
help,
especially
from
military
forces
and
from
highly
trained
and
experienced
Indian
crews
flown
in
from
several
western
states.
Late
that
afternoon
Kern
County,
north
of
the
Tehachapi
Mountains,
became
a
part
of
the
disaster
when
the
Rankin
Ranch
Fire
exploded
in
grass
and
brush
a.
Some
of
the
firefighting
forces
heading
south
toward
the
Los
Angeles
Basin
were
diverted
to
this
new
outbreak.
But,
still
,
what
was
to
be
the
largest
fire
of
them
all
had
not
yet
begun.
September
26:
The
Laguna
Fire
Starts
in
San
Diego
County
While
the
Wright,
Clampitt,
and
other
fires
continued
to
devour
homes
and
wildland
vegetation
in
the
Los
Angeles
area
on
September
26,
the
Devil
Wind
still
blew
furiously
in
San
Diego
County.
Even
before
the
Tecate
and
other
fires
in
the
county
had
been
contained,
another
spark
flashed
and
a
new
monster
sprang
to
life.
Deer
hunters
at
the
5,700
foot
level
of
the
Laguna
Mountains,
about
35
miles
east
of
the
City
of
San
Diego, saw
the
Laguna
Fire
start
at
6:11
a.m.
when
the
wind
blew
a
tree
down
and
across
a
power
line.
The
hot
line
crackled
and
started
a
series
of
small
fires
in
dry
grass
and
weeds.
Fire
spread
quickly
into
young
timber,
sending
up
huge
sheets
of
flame
and
almost
engulfing
the
hunters
as
they
ran
up
a
canyon
to
their
car.
19
Despite
prompt
attack
by
the
U.
S.
Forest
Service,
the
Laguna
Fire
moved
out
fast,
pushed
by
strong
wind,
and
spotted
as
much
as
a
mile
ahead.
Air
tankers
made
a
single
series
of
chemical
retardant
drops
and
then
were
grounded
for
the
remainder
of
the
day
because
of
high
wind
speed
and
severe
air
turbulence.
By
7:00
a.m.
the
Fire
Boss
asked
the
Cleveland
National
Forest
dispatcher
to
mobilize
for
a
major
conflagration
and
to
notify
law
enforcement
agencies
to
start
evacuation
of
all
persons
in
the
fire's
path.
Mutual
aid
was
sent
by
the
California
Division
of
Forestry
and
by
several
communities
in
San
Diego
County.
That
evening
the
fire
surged
into
the
mountain
community
of
Pine
Valley
and
razed
homes
in
several
resort
areas
as
it
rapidly
covered
some
30,000
acres
in
its
beginning
hours.
The
Forest
Service
called
for
additional
help
and
within
hours
was
receiving
hundreds
of
experienced
Indian
firefighters
from
Arizona,
New
Mexico,
and
Utah.
Elsewhere,
new
fires
escaped
initial
attack
efforts
of
the
tired
firefighters
and
became
fiery
catastrophes.
The
Camarillo
Fire
in
Ventura
County
demolished
seven
homes;
the
River
and
Speedy
Bogart
Fires
in
Riverside
County
took
six
more;
the
Palm
and
Verdemont
Fires
in
San
Bernardino
County
destroyed
eight
homes
between
them;
and
farther
to
the
north
in
Monterey
County
still
another
expensive
home
went
up
in
a
ball
of
black
smoke
in
the
Los
Laureles
Fire.
The
Guiberson
Fire
in
Ventura
County
started
when
the
gale
force
wind
blew
down
another
power
line
and
began
its
southwestward
march
over
Big
Mountain.
It
eventually
linked
with
the
Clampitt
Fire,
which
advanced
through
Simi
Valley
from
the
east
(Fig.
1).
The
Rankin
Ranch
Fire
in
Kern
County
continued
to
grow
as
needed
men
and
equipment
were
difficult
to
find.
Then,
on
the
afternoon
of
the
26th,
the
Rankin
Ranch's
air
tankers,
which
were
at
a
premium
on
the
large
number
of
fires
throughout
the
state,
were
diverted
to
a
new
fire
nearby
on
Red
Mountain
(10).
The
effort
to
keep
the
new
fire
small
was
to
no
avail
.
The
Red
Mountain
Fire
was
destined
to
enlarge
to
over
25,000
acres
before
it
was
contained
on
October
3
(Fig.
12).
But
its
acreage
would
be
exceeded
by
the
Rankin
Ranch
Fire's
32,725
acres.
September
27:
The
Inferno
Spreads
The
fires
continued
to
spread.
The
Val
Verde
Fire,
which
had
started
in
Los
Angeles
County
on
the
26th
and
burned
rapidly
westward
into
Ventura
County,
was
stopped
just
short
of
the
town
of
Piru
-
or
in
the
town
of
Piru,
considering
the
numerous
spot
fires
extinguished
in
grass
within
the
small
community.
The
Wright,
Clampitt,
Agua
Dulce,
Guiberson,
Rankin
Ranch,
and
Red
Mountain
Fires
were
still
raging
out
of
control
.
Each
of
these
fires
ran
with
the
howling
wind
which
scooped
up
masses
of
flaming
leaves,
bark,
branches,
and
wooden
shingles,
transported
them
for
a
mile
or
more,
and
threw
them
down
on
waiting
grassy
fields
or
on
a
checkerboard
of
wooden
roofs
where
each
flaming
ember
became
a
potential
new
fire.
19
The
greatest
destruction
that
day
was
caused
by
the
Laguna
Fire,
in
San
Diego
County.
Flames,
pushed
by
the
Devil
Wind,
roared at
express
train
speed
through
the
Lyons
Valley
area.
Like
a
probing
army,
the
holocaust
sent
one
column
of
flames
racing
northward
toward
Alpine,
Harbison
Canyon,
and
Suncrest,
and
another
column
southward
toward
Highway
94.
The
main
fire
front
continued
its
advance
westward,
leaping
ahead
from
ridge
to
ridge,
sending
flames
into
Jamul
and
Mexican
Canyon,
and
speeding
in
a
terrifying
100
-foot
high
wall
of
orange,
red,
and
white
flames
toward
the
towns
of
El
Cajon
and
Spring
Valley,
the
eastern
ramparts
of
the
City
of
San
Diego.
High
noon
turned
to
night
as
the
dense,
black
smoke
column
ahead
of
the
flames
was
held
close
to
the
ground
by
swift
erratic
east
winds.
Sparks
and
ashes
danced
wildly
among
homes
in
El
Cajon
as
the
enemy
moved
forward
--and
was
at last
brought
grudgingly
to
a
halt
by
a
set
and
well
organized
phalanx
of
men
and
equipment
from
some
70
different
fire
departments
and
agencies
and
thousands
of
frightened
but
determined
homeowners.
The
fire
was
blunted
but
had
grown
to
160,000
incinerated
acres
(Fig.
13).
wa
r
ti
oCe
4.
5
Fig.
12.
The
Red
Mountain
Fire
spread
through
valuable
timber
in
Kern
County.
0
20
That
afternoon
in
Harbison
Canyon
one
group
of
hardy
citizens
-
a
nudist
colony
successfully
defended
their
green
oasis
against
the
onslaught
of
the
Laguna
Fire
after
ignoring
sheriffs'
orders
to
evacuate.
As
one
San
Diego
newspaper
reported
4/ "Displaying
raw
defiance
to
the
sheriffs'
orders,
sun
worshippers
beat
back
the
roaring
flames
with
naked
courage
and
shovels.
The
nudist
park
barely
survived
the
fire."
Overhead,
the
ESSA
8
satellite
circled
the
earth
and
recorded
the
fire
activity,
demonstrating
its
potential
for
providing
fire
intelligence
in
future
years
(Fig.
14).
Still
more
fires
started
that
day,
escaped
control
,
and
became
large
in
size.
While
most
of
these
fires
were
in
southern
California,
the
battle
shifted
to
some
degree
back
to
the
central
part
of
the
state
where
campfires
started
two
fires,
despite
the
banning
of
all
outdoor
fires
by
A/
Robert
Dietrich,
San
Diego
Evening
Tribune,
October
1,
1970.
•••,
4444,
-
t
r.
.71%.
-17
4
1
; 0
;1
4
'
:17
?b•
"
..11.1
1
,4•
.1'
7fir
Fig.
13.
The
Laguna
Fire
in
San
Diego
County
destroyed
382
homes.
Photo
courtesy
of
San
Diego
Union
-
Tribune
Publishing
Co.
21
the
State
Forester.
One
of
the
two
fires
occurred
in
Mariposa
County
-the
gateway
to
Yosemite
burned
nearly
2,000
acres
of
brush
and
woodland
grass
and one
home.
The
day
was
nearing
its
end
when
the
second
campfire
escaped
its
bounds
at
9:45
p.m.
in
an
area
over
by
hippie
communes.
The
Buckeye
Fire
started
in
an
isolated
part
of
Salmon
Creek
on
the
Forest
in
Monterey
County
along
the
.
3"
z
,
,
3'.
Ara
.
4
2.to
"C
r
-V
,
le"
4A-
P
National
Park
-
and
that
had
been
taken
Los
Padres
National
1.
H
e:
Fig.
74.
ESSA
8
photographed
the
southern
California
fires
frOrri
a
hundred
miles
up.
Photo
courtesy
of
U.S.
Navy,
Naval
Missile
Canter,.
Pain
Mugu.
Californth.
22
central
California
coast.
It
made
its
first
run
to
the
top
of
Silver
Peak
where
it
came
under
the
influence
of
strong,
dry
east
winds
that
pushed
it
downhill
westward
toward
the
Pacific
Ocean
and
into
the
southern
range
of
the
mammoth
Coast
Redwood
trees
(Fig.
15).
By
daylight
the
fire
had
already
consumed
2,000
acres.
Control
efforts
were
hampered
because
the
National
Forest
had
already
sent
some
of
its
firefighting
forces
into
the
southern
part
of
the
state,
and
all
local
sources
of
organized
firefighters
had
been
exhausted.
The
Buckeye
was
on
its
way,
burning
in
extremely
rugged
terrain
where
access
by
roads
and
trails
was
nearly
non-existent.
Only
the
use
of
the
Forest
Service's
infrared
scanner,
flown
to
California
from
the
Boise,
Idaho,
Interagency
Fire
Center,
permitted
firefighters
to
maintain
continuous
vigil
of
the
fire's
location
and
progress.
Bulldozers
constructing
firebreaks
on
distant
main
ridges
and
helicopters
transporting
men
and
supplies
were
the
tactics
used
on
this
fire.
The
temperature
on
the
27th
had
been
105
degrees
in
Los
Angeles,
the
hottest
day
in
that
coastal
city
since
1963.
It
made
Los
Angeles
the
hottest
place
in
the
nation
on
that
day.
In
San
Diego,
near
the
Laguna
Fire,
the
temperature
had
been
95
degrees
and
humidity
was
7
percent;
winds
had
reached
70
mi
les
per
hour
in
the
fire
area.
The
peak
in
the
burning
conditions
had
been
reached,
but
the
fire
catastrophe
had
not
yet
ended.
-
,,•••
.
r
441
Fig.
15.
The
Buckeye
Fire
was
stopped
in
its
westerly
run
only
by
the
Pacific
Ocean.
Photo
courtesy
of
Monterey
Peninsula
Herald.
23
September
28:
The
Disaster
Reaches
Its
Peak
September
28
probably
saw
the
greatest
number
of
firemen
and
their
equipment
assigned
to
the
California
fires.
Although
it
is
difficult
to
enumerate
all
the
forces
brought
to bear
in
such
a
fluid
situation,
probably
some
19,500
professional
firemen
from
about
500
separate
departments
and
agencies
were
involved
with
wildland
fires
in
California
on
that
day,
through
mutual
aid
agreements,
the
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan,
and
inter
-state
and
intra-state
movement
of
forces.
Thousands
of
other
people
were
also
involved
in
the
suppression
effort
or
in
support roles.
Early
in
the
day
the
fire
situation
looked
encouraging
with
the
exception
of
the
Buckeye
Fire
in
Monterey
County
and
the
Red
Mountain
Fire
in
Kern
County.
The
Wright
Fire
in
the
Malibu
area
was
contained,
if
not
wholly
controlled.
The
Clampitt
Fire
was
contained
in
the
Chatsworth
-Woodland
Hills
area
in
Los
Angeles
County;
and
although
it
was
still
spreading
toward
the
Guiberson
Fire
in
the
Simi
Valley
-Moorpark
area
in
Ventura
County,
firemen
were
almost
on
top
of
the
situation.
The
Guiberson
Fire
continued
to
spread
across
the
hills
between
Simi
Valley
and
the
Santa
Clara
Valley
to
the
north,
but
did
relatively
little
damage
except
to
remotely
located
oil
well
equipment.
The
Wright
Fire
in
the
Malibu
area
was
still
loose
and
threatened
many
homes
but
was
being
fought
to
a
standstill
by
resolute
firemen.
Even
the
huge
Laguna
Fire
in
San
Diego
County
was
blunted;
it
would
continue
to
enlarge
its
territory
for
several
days,
but
on
September
28
firemen
felt
for
the
first
time
that
they
had
the
upper
hand.
The
Laguna
Fire
had
become
nearly
175,000
acres
and
had
averaged
a
phenomenal
rate
of
spread
of
over
3,000
acres
per
hour
for
the
first
48
hours.
It
was
the
largest
fire
in
San
Diego
County's
history.
In
fact
only
one
other
wildland
fire
had
exceeded
that
acreage
in
the
history
of
California:
the
Matilija
Fire,
which
had
burned
219,000
acres
of
remote
watershed
land
on
the
Los
Padres
National
Forest
in
1932.
As
earlier
fires
were
contained
or
controlled
on
the
28th,
new
ones
sprang
up
to
take
their
places.
In
the
early
afternoon
of
that
day,
tired
firefighters
on
the
Laguna
Fire
were
suddenly
shifted
about
12
miles
north
to
engage
a
new
flaming
monster,
the
Boulder
Fire.
The
Boulder
had
started
in
an
isolated
canyon
and
soon
spread
southwestward
through
valuable
pine
and
brush
covered
watershed
toward
the
Laguna
Fire.
Within
two
hours
it
had
moved
about
two
miles,
driven
by
gusty
winds
blowing
up
to
60
miles
per
hour.
It
threatened
to
destroy
Cuyamaca
State
Park
but
was
held
back
by
a
fighting
force
of
stubborn
firemen
aided'
by
the
Middle
Peak
Loop
fuelbreak.
Up
to
this
time
San
Bernardino
County had
been
relatively
quiet,
though
not
without
its
fire
activity.
The
situation
changed
in
a
hurry.
At
1:35
p.m.
a
man
in his
early
20's
threw
some
ignited
fireworks
into
the
brush
at
the
mouth
of
Lytle
Creek
Canyon.
The
Meyers
Fire
quickly
gathered
strength
and
speed,
heading
southwest
over
the
shoulder
of
5,230
-foot
San
Sevaine
Peak
toward
the
communities
of
Etiwanda
and
Cucamonga
on
the
far
side
of
the
mountain.
By
late
that
night
the
fire
had
devastated
some
7,000
acres
of
brush
and
timber
(Fig.
16).
September
29
and
30:
The
Situation
Improves
Slightly
The
Devil
Wind
gave
firefighters
a
short
respite
on
September
29
and
30.
Some
of
the
larger
fires
were
finally
contained
or
fully
controlled.
The
Wright,
Clampitt,
and
Guiberson
fires
which
had
burned
together
and
now
composed
one
huge
blackened
area
-
had
finally
been
tamed
at
more
than
147,000
acres.
Together
they
had
completely
demolished
189
homes,
damaged
hundreds
of
other
homes
and
structures,
and
taken
four
human
lives.
Serra
Ranch,
once
a
grand
mansion
overlooking
the
Pacific
Ocean
and
in
recent
years
a
Roman
Catholic
retreat
for
priests
and
laymen,
had
burned
to
the
ground
at
an
estimated
loss
of
a
million
dollars.
The
Spahn
Movie
Ranch,
since
1968
the
home
of
the
Charles
Manson
hippie
"family"
(then
on
trial
for
murder
in
a
Los
Angeles
courtroom)
had
been
wiped
out
by
the
flames.
On
the
afternoon
of
the
29th,
fire
crews
in
San
Diego
County
were
still
struggling
with
the
Laguna
and
Boulder
Fires
and
several
smaller
ones.
Suddenly
another
fire
broke
out
in
timber
near
the
mountain
town
of
Julian,
just
eight
miles
north
of
the
rampaging
Boulder
Fire.
No
organized
fire
department
crews
were
immediately
available
to
take
action
on
the
fire
which
threatened
to
spread
into
the
center
of
the
apple
-growing
community.
The
local
sheriff
.
r
.
..~
•~
Fig.
16.
The
Meyers
Fire
in
its
early
stages.
Photo
courtesy
of
San
Bernardino
Sun.
25
quickly
alerted
everyone
in
town,
and
soon
a
small
but
determined
army
of
men,
women,
and
children
was
marching
rapidly
toward
the
blaze
with
whatever
hand
tools
they
could
grab.
They
managed
to
hold
the
fire
to less
than
five
acres
until
six
firetrucks,
dispatched
from
the
Boulder
Fire,
arrived
to
extinguish
the
flames.
In
times
of
such
stress,
the
community
spirit
of
mankind
seems
capable
of
overcoming
many
obstacles.
On
the
night
of
the
30th,
the
north
flank
of
the
Buckeye
Fire
was
successfully
contained
when
the
Forest
Service
firemen
ignited
a
tremendous
backfire
which
leaped
forward
and
engaged
the
advancing
main
fire
front
in
a
brilliant
flash
of
flame
visible
for
many
miles.
About
an
hour
later
the
nearby
Pacific
Valley
Ranger
Station
received
a
telephone
call
from
San
Francisco;
a
passenger
in
an
airliner
heading
north
at
the
time
the
backfire
and
main
fire
met
in
a
huge
tornadic
inferno
had
seen
the
awesome
scene
and
wondered
what
unearthly
event
had
occurred.
Many
such
feats
of
control
action
took
place
on
September
29
and
30.
October
1:
The
Devil
Winds
Return
The
dry,
hot
winds
again
came
from
the
east
on
October
1.
Although
this
time
they
persisted
for
only
a
couple
days
and
were
somewhat
weaker,
they
still
caused
uncontrolled
fires
to
spread
violently
through
the
dry
wildland
fuels
and
to
destroy
more
homes
and
valuable
watershed
vegetation.
Driven
by
a
strong
north
wind,
the
Buckeye
Fire
surged
to
the
South
but
was
stopped
before
it
could
reach
the
Hearst
Castle
at
San
Simeon.
The
Boulder
defiantly
broke
its
bonds
and
was
halted
short
of
the
Cuyamaca
State
Park
only
by
a
dogged
band
of
tired
firefighters
and
by
10
air
tankers
making
repeated
drops
of
chemicals
(Fig.
17).
With
50
mile
per
hour
wind
and
relative
humidity
at
7
percent,
the
Red
Mountain
Fire
in
Kern
County
swept
through
prime
fir
and
pine
timber
at
the
6,000
foot
level
.
The
most
serious
break-out
occurred
on
the
Meyers
Fire
which
had
been
close
to
containment.
Driven
by
70
mile
per
hour
gusts
of
wind,
the
fire
raced
downslope
to
the
southwest
toward
the
foothill
communities
of
Etiwanda
and
Alta
Loma.
The
wall
of
flame
forced
the
evacuation
of
local
residents
and
about
4,500
students
of
Chaffey
College.
Although
a
few
spot
fires
ignited
on
the
college
grounds,
the
main
fire
front
was
stopped
about
a
quarter
mile
from
its
target
by
backfiring
from
a
prepared
firebreak
and
by
a
line
of
massed
firetrucks
and
firemen.
A
pall
of
black
smoke
and
ashes
covered
the
area
and
near
-darkness
came
at
4:30
p.m.
As
one
newspaperman
reported
5/,
"Even
earlier,
chickens
had
gone
to
roost
in
Cucamonga.
A
cock
crowed.
For
them,
the
day
had
ended."
5/
David
L.
Otis,
San
Bernardino
Evening
Telegram,
October
1,
1970.
In
San
Diego
County
the
day
ended
also
for
a
young
man
recently
released
from
a
mental
institution.
He
was
spotted
setting
a
string
of
fires
along
a
deserted
country
road
by
a
California
Division
of
Forestry
observer
flying
over
the
area
in
a
patrol
aircraft.
Within
minutes
the
man
was
apprehended
in
the
act
of
starting
another
fire
by
arson
investigators
directed
to
the
scene
by
the
aerial
observer.
Unfortunately,
the
scourge
of
new
fires
had
not
come
to
an
end.
At
2:55
p.m.
that
day,
far
to
the
north
in
Humboldt
County,
still
another
arsonist
set
his
match
to
dry
forest
fuel
in
an
area
where
timber
had
been
recently
cut
for
harvesting.
Within
moments,
huge
tongues
of
flame
leaped
rapidly
upslope
through
parched
logging
slash,
cut
logs,
and
residual
young
-growth
trees.
The
fire
grew
to
10
acres
in
one
hour,
to
200
acres
in
less
than
two
hours.
Hastily
built
bulldozer
trails
were
jumped
by
flames
time
after
time
as
a
thin
line
of
firefighters
tried
to
stem
the
flow
of
fire
through
the
forest.
Local
initial
attack
forces
of
the
California
Division
of
Forestry
had
been
depleted
to
a
large
extent
by
the
fires
in
southern
California.
Therefore
the
Division
relied
upon
and
received
assistance
from
the
timber
me
ro
r
.
4
ti
4
41
4
414,,,
4
.q
Yr"
evik
2
1
*:'
Fig.
17.
B-17
air
tanker
dropping
its
load
of
fire
retarding
chemical
on
the
Boulder
Fire
in
San
Diego
County.
Photo
courtesy
of
San
Diego
Union
-Tribune
Publishing
Co.
27
industry,
fire
districts,
firetrucks
sent
by
the
State
Office
of
Emergency
Services,
and
forestry
students
from
the
College
of
the
Redwoods
and
Humboldt
State
College.
By
8:00
a.m.
the
next
morning,
the
fire
had
spread
to
1,800
acres
of
valuable
commercial
timber
and
posed
a
threat
to
the
Founders
Grove
in
Humboldt
State
Park,
a
stand
of
huge
virgin
redwoods whose
age
dated
back
to
the
birth
of
Christ.
A
call
went
out
for
additional
help.
Fortunately,
the
help
required
for
new
fires
was
finally
becoming
available
from
the
southland.
October
2
and
3:
The
End
Is
In
Sight
A
most
welcome
event
occurred.
Late
on
October
2
a
low
pressure
area
that
had
been
bringing
thunder
showers
to
southern
Arizona
moved
westward
into
southern
California.
Startled
firefighters
looked
up
and
were
gladdened
by
drops
of
rain
wetting
their
grimy
faces.
The
showers
were
scattered.
Precipitation
varied
from
a
few
hundredths
to
as
much
as
an
inch.
Cool
marine
air
moved
in;
temperatures
dropped;
relative
humidities
rose
appreciably.
Rain
showers
continued
on
the
3rd
and
4th,
helping
to
bring
the
last
of
the
fiery
monsters
to
their
knees.
Although
no
rain
fell
in
northern
California,
weather
conditions
had
improved.
The
Camp
Grant
Fire
in
Humboldt
County
was
contained
on
October
3
without
having
reached
into
the
grove
of
ancient
redwoods.
On
the
2nd,
most
of
the
Humboldt
County
California
Division
of
Forestry
personnel
who
had
been
dispatched
to
southern
California
fires
were
quickly
returned
to
join
their
comrades
in
final
containment
action
on
the
Camp
Grant.
October
4:
The
Last
Large
Fire
is
Contained
The
grievous
conflict
between
nature
and
man
was
over
(Fig.
18).
The
Fish
Fire,
Wright,
Clampitt,
Rankin
Ranch,
Laguna,
Red
Mountain,
Buckeye,
Camp
Grant,
and,
finally,
the
Meyers
Fire
-
they
destroyed
no
more.
But
the
cost
had
been
fearful
(Fig.
19).
Four
firemen
and
a
helicopter
pilot
were
killed
in
an
unfortunate
aerial
accident
on
the
Fork
Fire
on
the
Angeles
National
Forest.
Eleven
other
people
had
died
in
connection
with
the
fires.
A
few
firemen
were
badly
burned
in
isolated
flare-ups
around
the
hundreds
of
miles
of
fire
perimeter.
Otherwise,
injuries
-
although
numerous
-
were
minor
in
nature,
considering
the
extreme
hazard
which
the
men
faced.
28
The
firemen
also
received
many
moments
of
cheer,
however.
The
Salvation
Army,
the
Red
Cross,
and
many
other
citizen
organizations
and
informal
groups
throughout
California
provided
food
and
drink
right
on
the
fire
line.
They
dressed
wounds
and
rinsed
smoke
-reddened
eyes;
provided
cots
and
blankets
where
a
few
moments
of
sleep
could
be
snatched;
and
washed
firemens'
clothing
while
they
slept.
The
same
special
care
was
given
to
those
people
whose
homes
were
destroyed,
damaged,
or
threatened
by
fire.
Even
bewildered
animals
-
both
wild
and
domesticated
-
were
gathered
up
by
Humane
Societies,
assisted
by
volunteers,
and
treated
as
very
important
guests.
Man
lost
to
the
fires
-in
terms
of
human,
material
,
and
natural
resources.
But
man
also
gained
-
in
terms
of
showing
a
capacity
to
plan
and
work
in
a
community
effort
to
overcome
a
common
enemy;
in
terms
of
testifying
to
compassion
for
his
fellow
man
in
time
of
great
peril
and
need;
and
in
terms
of
demonstrating
new
science
and
technology
in
finally
defeating
an
adversary
that
was
capable
of
many
times
the
destruction
that
actually
took
place.
Man
also
knew
that
there
would
be
more
wildfires
as
long
as
he
lived,
worked,
or
sought
recreation
in
the
wildlands.
He
acknowledged
past
errors
in his
relationship
to
nature
and
explored
how
he
might
rectify
those
errors
in
the
future.
‘,1
3
f4
1
4
Fig.
18.
Conservation
Camp
crews
mop
up
the
last
embers
on
the
Buckeye
Fire
in
Monterey
County.
Photo
courtesy
of
Monterey
Peninsula
Herald.
29
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EEGEMM7Li
O
.G
0_
RESPONSE
TO
THE
DISASTER
Fire
protection
agencies
in
California
were
well
aware
of
the
extreme
fire
weather
and
fuel
conditions
preceding
the
thirteen
-day
fire
disaster.
They
had
experienced
such
conditions
many
times
before
and
knew
what
the
consequences
might
be.
As
a
result
of
past
experiences,
they
had
devised
mutual
aid
plans
and
made
agreements
to
assist
each
other
when
the
fire
load
became
too
great
for
local
forces
to
handle.
General
Plan
of
Response
The
strength
of
the
firefighting
organization
in
California
lies
in
a
highly
coordinated
and
cooperative
plan
of
action
at
the
federal
,
state,
and
local
levels
of
government.
At
the
federal
government
level
the
United
States
Forest
Service
not only
can
move
its
forces
to
places
of
emergency
throughout
the
state,
but
also
can
draw
upon
nationwide
federal
assistance.
At
the
state
level
the
California
Division
of
Forestry
also
is
organized
to
move
its
forces
quickly
to any
area
within
California.
Fire
departments
of
local
governments
-
counties,
cities,
and
fire
districts
generally
confine
their
fire
activity
to
their
area
of
local
responsibility;
however,
under
terms
of
day-to-day
mutual
aid
agreements,
they
can
cross
political
boundaries
to
assist
their
immediate
neighbors.
The
same
day-to-day
mutual
aid
agreements
also
exist
between
the
Forest
Service
and
the
Division
of
Forestry;
and
between
those
two
agencies
and
their
many
federal
,
state,
and
local
government
neighbors.
The
result
is
a
"local
assistance"
plan
which
handles
the
ordinary
small
and
medium
sized
fire
situations.
Disasters
do
occur,
however,
which
local
political
subdivisions
cannot
handle
even
with
the
assistance
of
their
neighbors.
Recognizing
the
probability
of
major
disasters
--
fire,
flood,
or
earthquake
--
or
other
civil
disruptions,
California
has
enacted
an
"Emergency
Services
Act"
LQ
Under
this
act,
a
"State
of
Emergency"
can
be
proclaimed
by
the
Governor
whenever
a
catastrophe
is
beyond
the
control
of
a
political
subdivision
and
requires
the
combined
forces
of
a
mutual
aid
region
or
regions
to
combat.
The
Act
requires
assistance
of
all
state
agencies,
other
political
subdivisions,
and
private
agencies
upon
request
by
the
Governor's
coordinating
body,
the
Office
of
Emergency
Services.
In
the
event
of
a
proclaimed
fire
disaster,
all
agencies
operate
under
the
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan,
coordinated
by
the
Fire
and
Rescue
Division
of
the
Office
of
Emergency
Services;
this
Division
also
has
state-owned
firetrucks
and
other
equipment
assigned
to
local
and
state
government
fire
departments
throughout
the
state
which
it
can
dispatch
to
fires.
If
a
disaster
is
beyond
the
control
capabilities
of
all
combined
state
forces,
the
Governor
may
ask
the
President
of
the
United
States
to
declare
a
major
disaster
and
to
provide
federal
assistance
through
the
Office
of
Emergency
Preparedness.
Depending
on
the
nature
and
extent
of
a
fire
disaster,
there
is
therefore
a
planned
build-up
of
fire
control
assistance
from
the
local
,
to
the
state,
to
the
federal
level
.
The
total
system
of
mutual
and
outside
aid
and
emergency
plans
was
implemented
during
the
1970
fire
disaster.
How
the
system
worked
and
how
other
public
and
private
agencies
and
individuals
reacted
to
"dove
-tail"
into
the
overall
cooperative
activity
is
described
in
this
section
of
the
disaster
story.
31
United
States
Forest
Service
The
United
States
Forest
Service
provides
fire
protection
to
National
Forest
lands,
which
comprise
nearly
one-third
of
California's
wildland
area
(lesser
areas
of
federally
-owned
wildland
are
protected
by
the
Bureau
of
Land
Management,
the
National
Park
Service,
and
the
military)
(Fig.
20).
Under
contract
to
the
State
of
California,
the
Forest
Service
also
protects
privately
-owned
land
located
within
the
National
Forest
boundaries.
Because
the
National
Forests
are
contiguous
to
lands
protected
by
the
California
Division
of
Forestry,
the
Forest
Service
has
a
statewide
assistance
agreement
with
the
Division
for
interagency
use
of
men
and
equipment.
In
addition,
it
has
agreements
with
many
local
communities
within
and
adjacent
to
the
National
Forests
and
with
four
of
the
five
Contract
Counties:
Kern,
Los
Angeles,
Santa
Barbara,
and
Ventura.
"
.
:
AP
..... CA•I
N
°
``'
AREA:
Protected
by:
mn1111,
SCA"'
Or
Mites
AMP
conay.,_
TAKC12111
11
10
,4
111•1111L
California
Division
of
Forestry
Federal
Government
(
Mostly
U.S.
Forest
Service
Contract
Counties
(
Kern,
Los
Angeles,
Mann,
Santa
Barbara,Venturol
POPO"
1
-
,
"11.
1101
,
IIIMEMMak
TY
•MIIIIMMEM
3
giff
...
PAN
iiite•L•11
.
O
111
O
rin
-
1
Fig.
20.
Areas
of
wildland
fire
protection
responsibility
in
California.
The
Forest
Service
became
enmeshed
in
the
fire
disaster
early
in
this
period.
On
the
afternoon
of
September
22
the
Corona
Fire,
which
started
in
Riverside
County
on
privately
-owned
land
under
the
protection
jurisdiction
of
the
California
Division
of
Forestry,
was
carried
by
east
wind
onto
the
Cleveland
National
Forest.
Thus
began
thirteen
days
of
involvement
by
the
Forest,
Service.
On
Friday the
25th,
more
fires
spread
into
or
threatened
the
National
Forests.
The
Forest
Service
became
fully
involved
as
a
member
of
the
suppression
team
as
it
joined
forces
with
the
Los
Angeles
County
Fire
Department
on
the
Clampitt,
Agua
Dulce,
and
Bailey
Fires
and
with
Kern
County
on
the
Rankin
Ranch
Fire.
Regional
forces
from
throughout
the
state
began
to
converge
in
southern
California.
Experienced
hand
crews
were
requested
from
the
Pala
Indians
in
San
Diego
County
and
from
Mexican
-American
agricultural
workers
in
Tulare
County.
The
next
morning,
September
26,
the
Laguna
Fire
sparked
in
the
grass
on
the
Cleveland
National
Forest
in
San
Diego
County
and
began
its
rampaging
journey
to
the
west.
Before
the
day
had
passed,
other
fires
tested
the
strength
of
the
Forest
Service:
the
Fork
Fire
on
the
Angeles
National
Forest
and
the
Red
Mountain
Fire
on
the
Sequoia
National
Forest.
In
addition,
the
Liebre
Fire,
the
Val
Verde
Fire,
and
others
demanded
assistance
of
this
federal
agency.
In
view
of
critical
conditions
throughout
the
state,
the
Forest
Service
requested
out
-of
-Region
manpower
to
bolster
the
depleted
striking
force
in
northern
California.
Early
on
the
26th, eight
25
-man
crews
were
ordered
for
statewide
needs;
then
an
additional
150
men.
Shortly
after
noon,
200
more
men
were
requested
from
Region
4
(the
central
Rocky
Mountain
area) and
another
200
men
from
Region
3
(Southwestern
Region).
By
2:45
p.m.
2,100
firefighters
and
supervisory
overhead
were
en
route
to
California
from
the
11
western
continental
states.
These
men
were
available
because
the
areas
from
which they
came
faced
no
serious
threat
of
wildfires
at
that
time.
On
the
following
days
the
Forest
Service
experienced
still
other
major
fires
as
parts
of
the
overall
disaster:
the
Buckeye
Fire
on
the
Los
Padres
National
Forest
on
the
27th;
the
Boulder
Fire
on
the
Cleveland
National
Forest
and
the
Meyers
Fire
on
the
San
Bernardino
National
Forest
on
the
28th.
On
October
2,
in
view
of
the
continued
high
fire
danger
and
the
dispersal
of
fire
protection
forces,
the
Regional
Forester
closed
12
National
Forests
in
central
and
southern
California
to
all
public
use.
Decreasing
winds
and
rising
humidity
lowered
the
fire
danger
and
permitted
lifting
the
closure
late
on
Sunday,
October
4.
The
six
project
fires
that
started
on
the
National
Forests
burned
a
total
of
195,261
acres:
159,299
acres
of
National
Forest
land
and
35,962
acres
of
land
under
the
direct
protection
responsibility
of
other
agencies
(Appendix
B).
These
fires
required
the
use
of
40
aircraft,
more
than
1,000
firetrucks
from
all
cooperating
agencies,
and
over
6,000
men
-
2,500
of
whom
were
brought
in
from
neighboring
states,
including
a
large
number
of
crews
from
the
Indian
nations.
In
addition,
the
military
services
sent
many
men
and
much
equipment
upon
request.
33
While
the
dry
fuel
,
rugged
terrain,
and
strong
north
and
east
winds
were
the
major
factors
contributing
to
the
catastrophic
size
and
destruction
of
these
fires,
the
lack
of
an
adequate
initial
striking
force
was
also
an
important
reason
for
so
many
fires
becoming
large
in
the
National
Forests.
The
Assistant
Regional
Forester
in
charge
of
fire
control
said
later,
"Initial
attack
crews
financed
and
manned
to less
than
half
of
planned
strength
were
a
poor
match
for
the
burning
conditions
experienced
during
this
period.
All
large
fires
on
the
National
Forests
were
man
-caused
and
could
have
been
prevented
if
adequate
prevention
manpower
had
been
available.
The
challenge,
then,
is
to
develop
ways
and
means
of
spiking
up
prevention
and
control
efforts
during
these
critical
periods."
Despite
heavy
losses
created
by
the
six
major
fires
and
despite
extreme
burning
conditions,
the
National
Forests
of
southern
California
successfully
contained
90
fires
at
relatively
small
size
during
the
disaster
period.
During
the
same
time,
the
northern
California
National
Forests
were
experiencing
high
to
extreme
fire
danger.
Nevertheless,
the
northern
ten
Forests
suppressed
95
fires,
with
none
being
over
ten
acres
in
size
and
the
total
loss
of
only
25
acres
being
a
remarkable
record,
indeed,
under
the
conditions
that
existed.
Six
of
the
northern
California
National
Forests
went
through
the
critical
period
without
the
loss
of
a
single
acre
to
fire.
Much
of
this
fine
record
was
due
to
reinforcements
that
the
Forest
Service
was
able
to
bring
into
the
state
from
other
Regions;
much
of
it
was
due,
too,
to
cooperative
assistance
from
other
firefighting
agencies
in
California.
As
the
Assistant
Regional
Forester
expressed
himself
later,
"Once
again
the
situation
demonstrated
the
high
degree
of
coordination
and
cooperative
effort
that
exists
in
California."
California
Division
of
Forestry
Coordination
and
cooperation
among
fire
suppression
agencies
were
also
important
ingredients
in
operations
of
the
California
Division
of
Forestry.
Within
minutes
after
the
Fish
Fire
started
in
the
Oakland
Hills
on
September
22,
both
the
Oakland
Fire
Department
and
the
California
Division
of
Forestry
(responsible
for
fire
protection
in
the
area
where
the
fire
started)
recognized
they
had
a
major
fire
and
a
potential
disaster.
They
immediately
requested
assistance.
They
received
about
400
firemen,
116
pieces
of
firefighting
equipment,
several
bulldozers,
and
11
air
tankers
from
48
communities
and
agencies,
including
the
Office
of
Emergency
Services
which
sent
26
pieces
of
fire
apparatus
through
its
Regions
I I
and
IV
Dispatch
Centers.
Some
of
the
assisting
forces
came
from
as
far
as
80
miles.
Many
citizen
volunteers
arrived
to
help
pull
hose,
man
nozzles,
and
save
personal
belongings.
One
veteran
Oakland
Fire
Department
fireman
said,
almost
in
disbelief,
"if
it
hadn't
been
for
those
long-haired
hippies
from
Berkeley,
we'd
have
lost
the
entire
ridge."
Other
fires
throughout
the
state
began
to
tie
up
men
and
equipment.
The
outlook
was
becoming
grim.
The
California
Division
of
Forestry,
which
provides
direct
fire
protection
to
about
28
million
acres
of
the
state's
wildlands
(Fig.
20),
took
immediate
action
to
gain
the
full
effectiveness
of
its
235
initial
attack
crews
(operating
374
forest
firetrucks),
two
8
-man
helitack
crews,
137
Conservation
Camp
crews
(averaging
15
men
each),
58
initial
attack
bulldozer
-transport
units,
21
air
tankers,
and
other
firefighting
forces.
Recognizing
the
severe
fire
weather
and
developing
fire
activity,
on
September
22
the
Division
cancelled
days
-off
for
all
fire
control
personnel
and
recalled
off
-duty
personnel
.
The
cancellation
remained
in
force
until
October
5.
Burning
permits
were
suspended
by
the
Division
in
the
North
Coast
and
Central
Coast
Districts
on
the
22nd
and
in
the
remainder
of
the
state
on
-the
27th,
with
a
few
specific
exceptions
for
reasons
of
public
health
and
safety.
This
suspension
was
not
lifted
until
October
5.
Like
the
United
States
Forest
Service,
one
important
strength
of
the
Division
of
Forestry
is
its
ability
to
shift
large
numbers
of
men
and
equipment
quickly
from
one
part
of
the
state
to
another.
This
strength
was
demonstrated
during
the
1970
fire
disaster
when,
with
a
few
notable
exceptions,
the
large
fires
were
concentrated
in
the
south
half
of
the
state.
Remarkably
few
fires
occurred
in
the
Division's
area
of
direct
protection
responsibility
in
northeastern
California
and
in
the
central
Sierra
Nevada
mountains
during
the
13
-day
period,
despite
the
extreme
fire
potential
.
Consequently,
the
Division
was
able
to
draw
upon
those
areas
for
the
help
needed
so
badly
elsewhere.
The
greatest
strain
on
the
Division's
resources
occurred
on
and
after
September
25
with
the
beginning
of
major
fires
in
southern
California.
This
strain
was
complicated
by
the
large
number
of
Division
forces
already
committed
to
going
fires
in
northern
and
central
California
and
by
the
"fire
potential"
indicated
by
extreme
fire
weather
and
fuel
conditions
in
the
northern
part
of
the
state.
Nevertheless,
the
sudden
rash
of
fires
in
the
south
and
the
frantic
requests
for
assistance
demanded
that
help
be
sent.
Before
the
sun
had
set
on
the
25th,
the
Division
had
dispatched
32
initial
attack
firetruck
crews,
35
Conservation
Camp
crews
and
other
forces
to
Kern
County
and
southern
California.
The
Sacramento
Statewide
Dispatching
Center
immediately
went
into
an
expanded
24
-hours
a
day
manning
pattern
to
coordinate
the
statewide
movement
of
men
and
equipment.
Because
of
many
requests
for
information
that
were
already
keeping
the
telephone
lines
humming,
a
Public
Information
Office
was
set
up
adjacent
to
the
Dispatch
Center.
For
the
remaining
days
of
the
fire
disaster,
Sacramento
Headquarters
of
the
Division
of
Forestry
was
a
beehive
of
activity
as
were
Ranger
Unit
and
District
Headquarters
Offices.
Approval
of
federal
disaster
assistance
by
the
Director
of
the
Office
of
Emergency
Preparedness
on
the
morning
of
September
26
and
later
by
the
President
resulted
in
the
Division
requesting
help
from
the
federal
military
services
and
from
the
U.
S.
Forest
Service.
To
help
meet
the
growing
fire
problem,
the
Division
received
through
the
Forest
Service
and
the
Bureau
of
Land
Management
a
total
of
156
Indian
firefighters
from
the
Snake
River
and
Shoshone
nations
for
use
in
San
Diego
County.
From
the
federal
military
services
(all
were
represented),
the
Division
received
help
from
227
men,
68
pieces
of
ground
equipment,
and
19
helicopters.
Other
major
assistance
came
from
the
State
Military
Forces
(National
Guard).
35
On
September
28,
at
the
peak
of
activity,
76
Division
of
Forestry
firetruck
crews,
31
Conservation
Camp
crews,
and
139
overhead
were
serving
in
southern
California
from
the
Division's
five
other
administrative
districts.
In
addition,
12
firetruck
crews,
28
Conservation
Camp
crews,
and
46
overhead
personnel
were
assisting
the
Kern
County
Fire
Department
on
the
Rankin
Ranch
and
Red
Mountain
Fires
-
joint
fires
with
the
Sequoia
National
Forest.
On
the
30th,
more
firetruck
crews,
Conservation
Camp
crews,
and
overhead
were
dispatched
to
the
CDF's
portion
of
the
Buckeye
Fire
in
Monterey
County
which
was
being
fought
jointly
with
the
Los
Padres
National
Forest
and
the
Hunter
Liggett
Military
Reservation.
In
addition
to
inmates
in
organized
Conservation
Camp
crews,
591
inmates
trained
in
forest
firefighting
techniques
came
from
the
Department
of
Corrections'
penal
institutions
throughout
the
state.
In
many
movements
of
men
and
equipment
the
Division
used
the
"task
force"
concept,
commonly
adopted
by
fire
departments
in
California
especially
for
mutual
aid
situations.
Under
this
concept,
several
units
traveled
and
worked
together
as
a
team
or
"module",
and
were
led
by
a
"task
force
commander."
For
example,
the
Division's
"firetruck
task
force"
was
usually
a
team
of
five
firetruck
crews
led
and
coordinated
by
an
Assistant
State
Forest
Ranger
who
traveled
in his
own
vehicle.
Such
massive
movements
of
firefighting
resources
over
long
distances
and
for
many
days
required
close
control
and
coordination.
During
the
fire
disaster,
staging
areas
and
vehicle
pools
were
established
at
several
locations
throughout
the
state
-
some
specifically
for
Division
of
Forestry
forces,
some
in
cooperation
with
other
agencies.
One
staging
area
was
set
up
at
the
Don
Lugo
Conservation
Camp
at
Chino
in
San
Bernardino
County.
Another
staging
area
was
established
at
the
California
Department
of
Youth
Authority's
DeWitt
Nelson
School
for
Boys
in
Stockton
in
central
California.
This
latter
facility
served
over
1,000
personnel
and
200
pieces
of
equipment
from
September
26
through
October
4.
During
demobilization,
all
northern
California
crews
of
the
Division
were
directed
en
route
to
the
DeWitt
Nelson
School
for
final
check-out
and
servicing
of
vehicles
and
other
equipment
prior
to
continuing
to
their
home
bases.
All
Division
of
Forestry
firetruck
and
bulldozer
crews
and
overhead
in
southern
California
were
demobilized
at
the
Division's
Southern
California
District
Headquarters
in
Riverside.
Here,
the
crews'
vehicles
were
completely
checked
by
automotive
engineers
who
arranged
for
necessary
repairs
and
servicing
while
the
crew
members
gained
needed
sleep
at
nearby
motels
before
proceeding
to
their
distant
stations.
A
similar
eff
ort
took
place
at
the
Don
Lugo
Conservation
Camp
for
Conservation
Camp
crews.
During
the
statewide
disaster,
more
than
half
of
all
wildland
fires
started
on
land
under
the
direct
protection
of
the
Division
of
Forestry
(Appendix
A).
Of
the
434
fires
that
started
on
Division
-protected
land,
only
14
escaped
to
large
size.
This
good
record
(considering
the
fire
situation)
was
due
in
very
large
part
to
cooperative
efforts
of
many
local
,
state,
federal
and
private
agencies
which
provided
assistance
to
the
Division.
At
the
heart
of
the
planning
for
such
mutual
and
outside
aid
for
emergency
operations
involving
local
governments
is
the
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan,
coordinated
by
the
California
Office
of
Emergency
Services.
36
California
office
of
Emergency
Services
and
Local
Governments
The
fire
departments
of
local
governments
(counties,
cities,
legal
fire
districts
and
volunteer
groups)
and
private
companies
are
generally restricted
by
charter,
ordinance,
or
policy
to
operating
within
specified
geographic
boundaries.
Fire
chiefs
and
political
heads
recognized
many
years
ago,
however,
that
regardless
of
size,
any
one
fire
department
can
experience
a
fire
situation
beyond
its
capability
to
handle.
On
such
occasions
a
fire
department
must
depend
on
assistance
from
its
immediate
neighbors.
As
a
practical
matter,
any
fire
department
may
infrequently
face
a
major
disaster
which
demands
extraordinary
help
that
cannot
be
supplied
adequately
even
from
its
neighbors.
The
1970
fire
disaster
was
a
prime
example
of
this
kind
of
situation.
Recognizing
the
possibility
of
such
major
disasters,
California
has
a
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan
to
carry
out
the
State's
responsibility
to
assist
local
communities
on
these
occasions
LQ.
Coordinated
by
the
Division
of
Fire
and
Rescue
of
the
State
Office
of
Emergency
Services,
the
Plan
is
intended
to
provide
the
most
effective
mobilizing
and
dispatching
of
all
available
firefighting
resources.
It
gives
a
flexible
pattern
for:
Day-to-day
mutual
aid
on
a
voluntary
basis
among
adjacent
city
and
county
fire
departments
and
local
fire
districts.
Integration
of
state-owned
firefighting
apparatus
into
the
day-to-day
voluntary
mutual
aid
pattern.
Mutual
aid
operations
on
a
mandatory
basis
during
a
"State
of
Emergency"
proclaimed
by
the
Governor,
usually
upon
request
by
local
government
authorities.
For
ease
in
executing
the
plan,
California's
approximately
1,000
fire
departments,
districts,
and
agencies
are
organized
into
63
"Operational
Areas"
and
six
"Regions".
Each
Operational
Area
and
Region
has
an
elected
Fire
Coordinator
and
a
designated
Dispatch
Center
which
is
operational
24
-hours
a
day.
The
Plan
therefore
provides
for
an
orderly
expansion
of
assistance
from
(1)
adjacent
neighbors,
to
(2)
Operational
Area,
to
(3)
Region,
to
(4)
State
level
(i
.e.,
the
Division
of
Fire
and
Rescue
whose
headquarters
are
in
the
state
capitol
City
of
Sacramento).
The
State
also
recognizes
its
responsibility
to
assist
in
fire
disasters
by
providing
100
firetrucks,
29
rescue
trucks,
five
communication
vans
or
trailers,
four
mobile
radio
relays,
and
about
100,000
feet
of
six-inch
quick
-coupling
aluminum
pipe
with
seven trailers
for
hauling
the
pipe.
This
equipment
is
assigned
by
the
Office
of
Emergency
Services
to
local
fire
departments
and
state
agencies
who
can
use
it
on
any
day-to-day
emergency
within
their
jurisdictional
area.
In
return
for
this
privileged
use,
the
local
department
is
obligated
to respond to
other
jurisdictions
with
the
equipment
whenever
requested
by
the
Operational
Area
Dispatch
Center.
37
Fi•g,
21
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Mutual
Aid
Regions,.
Cahtornia
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ri
among,
The
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan
was
therefore
the
basis
for
most
responses
by
fire
departments
of
local
political
subdivisions
during
California's
1970
fire
disaster.
The
Fire
and
Rescue
Division
of
the
California
Office
of
Emergency
Services
(OES)
was
committed
to
the
fire
disaster
early
on
September
22
when
assistance
was
requested
on
the
Fish
Fire
in
the
Oakland
Hills
LQ.
Under
provisions
of
the
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan,
OES
quickly
responded
with
21
firetrucks
and
supplementary
support
apparatus
and
personnel
.
The
second
request
came
from
the
Operational
Area
Fire
Coordinator
in
Humboldt
County
for
five
OES
pumpers.
These
units
were
used
to
help
protect
hippie
communes
and
a
few
ranch
buildings
in
the
vicinity
of
the
Clarks
Butte
Fire.
On
September
24,
the
Office
of
Emergency
Services,
notified
of
critical
fire
weather
statewide
and
especially
in
southern
California,
established
close
contact
with
the
Division
of
Forestry,
the
U.
S.
Forest
Service,
and
several
county
fire
departments
in
the
south.
Soon
after
the
outbreak
of
fires
in
southern
California
on
the
25th,
the
Sacramento
office
of
OES
went
on
24
-hour
duty.
The
initial
request
for
30
OES
firetrucks
from
Mutual
Aid
Region
I
was
filled
with
apparatus
from
Regions
I
and
VI
(Fig.
21).
As
the
fires
grew
in
size
and
involved
thousands
of
structures,
further
requests
for
help
had
to
be
filled
from
northern
California.
Regions.
By
the
morning
of
the
26th,
78
OES
firetrucks
and
other
support
apparatus
were
committed
to
fires
just
in
Los
Angeles
and
Ventura
Counties.
Such
a
multitude
of
equipment
moving
fluidly
from
one
fire
to
another
required
the
establishment
of
motor
pools
for
coordinated
use.
One
pool
was
established
at
the
Malibu
Fire
Camp
on
the
Wright
Fire
and
another
at
the
Newhall
Fire
Camp
to
serve
fires
burning
in
both
Los
Angeles
and
Ventura
Counties.
An
OES
communications
van
at
each
pool
helped
maintain
radio
contact
with
all
OES
units
and
assured
their
coordinated
and
most
effective
use.
Early
in
the
afternoon
of
September
25,
it
became
apparent
to
OES
officials
and
to
the
Region
I
Fire
Coordinator
that
the
fire
magnitude
required
the
establishment
of
a
General
Headquarters
(GHQ)
for
overall
control
of
the
firefighting
forces.
The
Los
Angeles
County
Fire
Department,
whose
Chief
is
the
elected
Region
I
Fire
Coordinator
and
whose
dispatching
facility
is
also
the
Region
I
Dispatch
Center,
had
been phasing
gradually
into
a
major
disaster
structure,
and
therefore
it
was
relatively
simple
to
expand
into
the
State
Fire
Disaster
Plan
GHQ
operation.
Within
a
short
time
the
following
agencies
had
sent
top
level
representatives
to
form
the
Board
of
Strategy
of
Region
I
GHQ:
U.
S.
Forest
Service,
California
Division
of
Forestry,
California
Office
of
Emergency
Services,
Cal
ifornia
Highway
Patrol
,
Los
Angeles
County
Fire
Department,
Los
Angeles
County
Sheriff,
Los
Angeles
County
Administrative
Services,
and
Los
Angeles
City
Fire
Department.
The
Ventura
and
Kern
County
Fire
Departments
were
also
invited
to
send
representatives
to
GHQ.
This
liaison
group
became
the
focal
point
for
all
fire
intelligence
and
acted
to
coordinate
results
and
assign
priorities
to
the
regionwide
dispatching
of
firefighting
forces.
In
practicality,
GHQ
extended
its
decisions
39
beyond
Region
I
into
Kern
County
(Region
V)
and
into
the
southern
counties
of
Region
VI.
Because
of
the
unprecedented
magnitude
of
the
fire
disaster,
GHQ
did
not operate
smoothly
at all
times.
Nevertheless,
the
coordinating
center
was
instrumental
in
pulling
together
the
efforts
of
a
large
number
of
agencies
working
toward
a
common
goal
.
By
September
28
the
greatest
needs
for
assisting
firefighting
forces
had
shifted
principally
to
San
Diego
and
San
Bernardino
Counties
in
Region
VI.
Therefore
GHQ
was
shifted
to
the
Division
of
Forestry's
district
office
at
Riverside.
About
the
same
time
OES
also
decided
to
move
the
assisting
apparatus
pools
from
Newhall
and
Malibu
to
the
El
Toro
Marine
Air
Station
in
Orange
County
to
serve
all
of
southern
California.
As
many
firetrucks
as
were
available
were
released
from
Ventura
and
Los
Angeles
Counties
and
shifted
to
the
Laguna
Fire
in
San
Diego
County
and
the
Meyers
Fire
in
San
Bernardino
County.
The
fire
situation
slackened
on
the
28th.
All
Region
I
and
Region
VI
OES
units
were
released
to
their
home
stations.
On
the
30th
the
Red
Mountain
Fire
in
Kern
County
was
the
only
active
operation
involving
OES
apparatus.
With
the
return
of
east
winds
on
October
1
and
the
break-out
of
the
Meyers
and
Boulder
Fires,
more
OES
units
were
called
into
action
in
southern
California.
In
addition,
a
request
suddenly
came
again
from
the
far
north
in
Humboldt
County
where
the
Camp
Grant
Fire
threatened
structures
along
the
Redwood
Highway.
The
continuing
extreme
fire
conditions
prompted
OES
to
activate
on
a
stand-by
basis
a
15
-unit
task
force
at
Bakersfield
in
Kern
County.
Finally,
on
October
3,
the
statewide
fire
situation
had
been
brought
under
sufficient
control
to
permit
the
release
of
all
state-owned
OES
mutual
aid
apparatus
to
their
home
bases.
Altogether
92
OES
firetrucks,
four
communications
vans,
11
other
vehicles,
and
320
people
had
been
involved
in
the
Office
of
Emergency
Services'
planning,
directing,
and
vehicle
operations
during
the
fire
disaster.
Contract
County
Fire
Departments
Three
of
the
five
"Contract
County"
fire
departments
were
heavily
involved
in
the
1970
fire
disaster:
Kern,
Los
Angeles,
and
Ventura
6/.
Despite
the
extreme
potential
existing
in
their
areas
of
protection
responsibility,
the
Marin
County
Fire
Department
experienced
only
a
rash
of
21
small
grass
fires
that
burned
a
total
of
seven
acres,
and
the
Santa
Barbara
County
Fire
Department
made
runs
to
15
wildland
fires
that
consumed
48
acres
of
brush
and
grass.
The
three
other
Contract
Counties
did
not
fare
so
well
.
6/
The
State
of
California
has
defined
by
law
those
watershed
lands
for
which
It
has
assumed
the
financial
responsibility
of
protecting
from
fire.
Most
of
this
area
is
protected
by
the
California
Division
of
Forestry.
However,
under
the
law,
individual
counties
may
elect
to
provide
fire
protection
to
the
defined
areas
within
their
political
boundaries
by
contract
to
the
State,
for
which
services
they
are
reimbursed
by
the
State.
The
five
"Contract
Counties"
which
have
elected
this
alternative
are
Kern,
Los
Angeles,
Marin,
Santa
Barbara,
and
Ventura.
40
Los
Angeles
County
The
Los
Angeles
County
Fire
Department
provides
fire
protection
to
all
the
unincorporated
residential
and
industrial
areas
of
Los
Angeles
County,
to
30
incorporated
cities
(under
contract),
and
to
648,187
acres
of
wildland
under
contract
to
the
State
of
California.
Los
Angeles
County
was
the
first
of
the
Contract
Counties
to
feel
the
fury
of
fire
when
the
Wright
and
then
the
Clampitt
sprang
to
life
within
20
minutes
of
each
other
on
September
25
(7).
They
were
closely
followed
by
the
Bailey
and
the
Agua
Dulce
Fires.
Within
just
a
little
more
than
four
hours
the
Los
Angeles
County
Fire
Department
found
itself
faced
with
trying
to
control
these
four
major
blazes.
The
potential
of
the
extreme
fire
danger
had
been
recognized
by
the
Department
earlier
in
the
week.
On
the
20th
the
watershed areas
of
Los
Angeles
County had
been
placed
on
"Fire
Hazard
Alert"
(2).
Precautions
included
stepped
-up
fire
prevention
patrols
in
the
wildland
areas;
all
personnel
being
alerted
to
the
possibility
of
emergency
fire
procedures;
an
increased
program
of
fire
prevention
messages
to
the
general
public
through
the
news
media;
and
closer
communications
and
coordination
with
other
wildland
fire
control
agencies.
When
the
Wright
Fire
broke
at
10:31
a.m.
on
the
25th,
the
Department
immediately
recognized
the
threat
of
disaster.
Within
45
minutes
the
Department
had
shifted
gears
to
Plan
III
of
its
"Emergency
Operations
Procedure"
(Fig.
22).
Under
this
plan,
the
Chairman
of
the
Los
Angeles
County
Board
of
Supervisors
declared
a