The hills are alive with the sound of fire

Around 3pm on Tuesday I felt a ping from my pocket. It was a facebook post from a neighbor:

firefirefire

Intriguing to say the least.

By the time I opened a browser (I was at work) more posts from neighbors had gone up, but the most frightening one looked like this:

That red roof there in the background by the fire is our building.

At that point, I showed my manager and headed for home. Outside the office, I could see things had gotten worse since that photo was posted. The entire Hollywood sign part of the Santa Monica Mountain range was covered in a thick brown smoke. The fire was already visible to the entire city in front and behind the mountain range.

While I drove into the smoke the radio informed me that my street, Cahuenga Blvd East, was closed the entire length of the one-way portion. I still drove up to the barricades and asked if residents were allowed through, but was rebuffed. I parked on the other side of the 101 and watched as fire helicopters dropped water from the reservoir and firefighters brought hoses up the hill.

By that time my phone was “blowing up” as the local (and some national) news media caught wind of the story. When the hills below the Hollywood sign are on fire it makes for an intriguing story headline.

I just watched and held my breath as the fire crept down the hill towards our condo and neighbors stuck inside gave a play-by-play. It was surreal standing right there not able to do anything about it. I never really thought about what material possession I would save in a situation like this before. Pretty sure now that it would be my first electric guitar, a gift from my parents on my 15th birthday that still sits in my living room. But deciding wouldn’t help any if the fire didn’t stop, I guess I just knew what I’d mourn the loss of the most.  (At this point, I should probably mention that Sam was miles away, safe in downtown Los Angeles) It was also odd having folks park their cars next to me to get a “good view” for a few snapshots and then leave.

Since the fire came from the south and our condo is only the third in from the southern end of the entire complex – and we’re on the ground level- our home was in very clear danger. If anything was damaged our unit would be one of the first.

The roof in the center of this video is the roof of our building:

That concrete sluice is essentially the property line. Our condo is to the right on the fire-side (back side) of that taller white part on the roof (the elevator equipment).

Below is a collage from TV reports done by a neighbor a little later after the fire was starting to get contained. That building that bends like an L is our building and we live right in front of that tall round tree below the concrete sluice.

However, the battle was still raging on the backside of the hill:

Luckily, the firefighters got the blaze contained just at the edge of our property line in front of our condo. I’d never before seen such a concentration of fire trucks, firefighters, or fire choppers. The news reported more than 200 firefighters and five water-dropping helicopters were dispatched as the blaze grew from a small brush fire into an 18 acre “all hands” call to stop damage from reaching homes, the 101 freeway, the Ford Theater, and the Hollywood Reservoir.

Now that the danger has passed, the focus of our community is on how best to let the LAFD know our appreciation for saving our homes.

(Note: all photos are copyright of Cahuenga Hills community members and/or identified news media and assumed available for non-commercial use, but I will take down upon request)

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