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SoCal’s Godfather Brush Fire!

Posted by msrb on October 24, 2008

submitted by a reader

Sepulveda Pass brush fire closed 405 Freeway for several hours

400 firefighters and nine water-dropping helicopters took 8 hrs to extinguish 100-acre Sepulveda Pass brush fire

Sepulveda Pass brush fire was the mother of all brush fires of late. It  must have been. It took 32 firefighter-hours to extinguish each acre [one acre is about 4,047 m².] In other words, it took each firefighter an average of one hour to extinguish an area measuring about 11.25 x 11.25 meters (12.3 x 12.3 yards, or 1,361 ft²), about 7.7 full-size car spaces (20′ x 8′ parallel parking, one-way aisle – Off-Street Parking Design Standards, San Jose, California).

And of course nine water-dropping helicopters from the city and Los Angeles County helped douse the flames with their massive loads.

How long will a tumbleweed take to burn out?

A helicopter drops water as drivers make their way over the Sepulveda Pass on the 405 Freeway. An early-morning brush fire temporarily closed the interstate. Photo: Gus Ruelas/Associated Press. Image may be subject to copyright. See Fair Use Notice.

Sepulveda Pass brush fire was also a very intelligent fire! It started at about 12.50 am trying to catch the  brave firefighters off guard. The fire started west of Interstate 405 in Los Angeles and crept toward the Getty Museum, a college, a cultural center as well as some of the most expensive homes in SoCal.

This was a fire to capture the attention of the well-heeled, grabbing their private parts so that their hearts and minds would follow, softening the attitude of anyone [without a wild imagination ] who might have doubted the seriousness and prevalence of California fires. This was a fire with a message for the wealthy elite [who didn’t strike it rich through the fire industry] and lawmakers alike: No amount of money, not even a zillion dollars, is too much to pay to fight the flames.

Can you imagine, god forbid, the Getty Museum going up in smoke because there wasn’t enough money to fight the flames?

Call it Sepulveda Pass brush fire, if you must, but this brush fire was no ordinary fire. It had blood from the severed head of Khartoum splashed all over it!

An excerpt from Brush Fire Burns 100 Acres near The Getty Center

Date: Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 12:51 AM,

  • 69 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters,
  • 7 LAFD Rescue Ambulances,
  • 1 Heavy Rescue, 4 Arson Units,
  • 3 Rehab Units,
  • 8 Helicopters,
  • 7 EMS Battalion Captains,
  • 16 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams,
  • 2 Division Chief Officer Command Teams,
  • LAFD Dozers, [unspecified numbers]
  • Water Tenders, [unspecified numbers]
  • Mobile Command Post,
  • 2 CERT Team Coordinators,

and companies from

  • Los Angeles County,
  • Orange County and
  • State Office of Emergency Services Fire Departments

all under the direction of Assistant Chief Craig Fry responded to a Major Emergency Brush Fire at the South Bound 405 Freeway near Getty Center Dr. in Bel Air.

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5 Responses to “SoCal’s Godfather Brush Fire!”

  1. […] SoCal’s Godfather Brush Fire! […]

  2. feww said

    A colleague has since contacted AP concerning the copyright photo published above which was taken by Gus Ruelas:

    Dear Mr Ruelas

    Would it be possible to confirm whether the following photo taken by yourself is a true and original take and that it has not been retouched in any way?

    Please see:

    and a comment by a LAFD implying that the photo is a retouch:

    Thanks and regards

    AP’s Reply

    Responding to the above email AP Corporate Communications section stated that the photo was NOT “retouched.”

  3. feww said

    Thank you for input. We note your special interest in the affairs.

    “This ’smallest fire’ was in the same spot as a fire exactly 30 years prior to this week (under nearly identical conditions)…”

    We have no way of confirming that the two fires were “identical.” If in fact that were the case, perhaps the prudent action for the LAFD would have been never to allow preexisting ground conditions promoting an identical fire.

    Given your knowledge of the fire matters, we would appreciate the following information:

    1. In your expert opinion, how did the Sepulveda Pass brush fire start?
    2. An estimate of costs for the fire.
    3. Total volume of water and other substances used extinguishing this fire.
    4. Number of Dozers employed.
    5. The area in the AP photo (above) appears to be about 4 to 5 acres in size. Given that fire has incinerated most of the brush, and a water-dropping helicopter is still dousing the area with water, would it be safe to assume the area in the photo was included in the overall sum total of the 100 acres, which was the reported overall size of Sepulveda Pass brush fire?

    By calling your photos “unretouched,” which “convey a far different reality,” you are suggesting that the AP photo above taken by Gus Ruelas is retouched and unreal. In your opinion, what would he gain from compromising his journalistic integrity by faking a photo?

    My colleagues and I looked through the photos you linked to, but remain unimpressed. Frankly, we have seen bonfires shooting higher flames into the air.

    Best wishes
    OBO Moderators

  4. While I sense some of this post was tongue in cheek, your readers might mistakenly take the expressed sentiments as fact.

    This ’smallest fire’ was in the same spot as a fire exactly 30 years prior to this week (under nearly identical conditions) that consumed more than sixty square miles of the Santa Monica Mountains, leveling 230 homes and if I correctly recall, taking 3 lives.

    Had we not brought sufficient force to bear against this 2008 fire in a timely fashion – with sustainable offensive teams on site, this blaze could have easily destroyed thousands of homes and take hundreds of lives.

    In case it helps, here are some unretouched photos of the fire – images that convey a far different reality than the AP copyright image by gifted photographer Gus Ruelas

    In closing, please let me offer thanks for your continued interest in the endeavors of southern California firefighters.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

  5. […] Comments The Godfather Brush … on The “F” word is ba…The Godfather Brush … on […]

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