Porter Ranch Fire 2008 - by Matthew Wallman

October 20, 2008  •  Leave a Comment

If you live in Southern California wildfires are an inevitability. To an outsider, Los Angeles and the surrounding counties may seem like endless urban sprawl, but quite the opposite is true. Dry brush surrounds much of the populated areas, with tens of thousands of homes sitting in a fire danger area. In any given year there can be hundreds of wildfires. Some of the time, wildfires occur from natural circumstances (and can actually be quite beneficial to the natural environment) while many others are unfortunately man-made.

Generally October is a hot and dry month. Sometimes the heat is coupled with fierce Santa Ana winds that can register up to 70mph through mountains and passes. Once the element of fire is mixed in with these other factors, things grow out of control very quickly. Living in Simi Valley, just outside of the Los Angeles City Limits, fire seems to threaten the housing stock every few years. Started by downed power lines in Los Angeles County, the fire grew and was eventually blown over the top of Rockey Peak, one of the highest points in the area. The fire marched down the back side of the mountain toward several Simi Valley houses. Before any structures were lost, the Governor of California called a state of emergency and all available agencies were dispatched to extinguish the fire as quickly as possible. Air support from the area was called in to the get the upper hand on the fire. After several days, the fire burned 22 square miles and cost roughly $7.9 million dollars to extinguish.

Although the very possible loss of life, property, and landscape is a harsh reality for residents, documenting the individuals that work to  prevent these losses can be rewarding. Providing first responders to a scene with prints they can hang in their office or facility and seeing them get a new view of the work they have done hopefully helps make them feel appreciated. They are all that stands between much of California and a raging, wind whipped fire. Below are photos taken during the Porter Ranch Fire to help illustrate the airborne effort that helped fight the fire. Please note, if you enjoy photographing anything emergency related, remain a safe distance from any danger and listen to what first responder ask of you. They are there to do a job, and want to keep everyone safe.

 

Coming back for more water after delivering a precise drop.

LA County Fire Sikorsky S-70 filled with water heading for a drop.

Through the smoke this LACoFD Bell 412 looks to make a drop.

Filled to the top of the tank with water and climbing out.

Backlit in the morning.

Getting fuel for the flight home to Camarillo (CMA).

When homes were threatened the most, this Super Scooper came in to delivery lots of water quickly.

After landing and taking on water, this helo pilot exited to inspect the exterior.

   

 

 


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