Time flies whether it’s fun or not

Angeles National Forest Sign Burning in the Station FireI can’t believe that four years have passed. It seems like the Station Fire happened just a moment ago, and that my life before the fire belonged to someone else. And I’m one of the lucky ones… My house didn’t burn.

As August descends once more I look back on what was lost, what remains, and what has begun to be restored or rebuilt. I remember how fiercely I felt about the forest before the fire swept through it. I remember how tentative and fearful I became afterwards. I remember the hollow feeling I had in my heart when I lived in exile, renting a house in the West Valley while my home was boarded up and empty because the fear of debris flows kept me away.

Even now, years after returning, I am still disoriented. I still can’t find things in my house because so many things were moved by others and put away in different places. I cannot imagine how others feel, my friends and one-time neighbors who truly did lose everything to the Inferno.

It’s not all bad, though. The forest continues to restore itself in terms of foliage and furry critters. (The ground squirrels have run rampant and unchecked for so long that they’ve gotten plague again. Hopefully that will kill them off, but I digress…)

People are finally building and rebuilding in the Canyon, but progress has been slow, and it seems that even the most stubborn folk are losing their will to return. It is still difficult for me to walk to Wildwood and see all the empty lots where quirky houses and so many wonderful trees once stood. It’s lonely, too. There used to be so many dogs to visit along that walk. Now there are only two, and one of them isn’t very sociable.

I guess that’s the problem with August. The Anniversary always makes me nostalgic and wistful, remembering and grieving for things lost and people who have moved away. I know it will pass and I will get on with my life, going to work, paying my bills, and trying to improve on things as best I can. That’s what we all do, wherever we are. That’s what life requires of us.

So once more I will face August, host my Memorial BBQ and invite my fellow survivors to gather in the forest to share our memories and stories of things past and present. It’s what I do to cope, to face the emptiness. It never goes completely away, that emptiness, but that doesn’t mean I let it rule me.

For I have promises to keep….




Three Years After the Inferno

Three years ago the Station Fire destroyed my neighborhood.

I remember it as if it all happened five minutes ago. I got up just after sunrise, went out to my back yard and looked to the East, toward Grizzly Flats, the Angeles Crest Highway, and the plume of smoke that had dominated my every thought for days.

The Station Fire by night, before the inferno came. Photo by Mark Fitzsimmons.

The fire had started on August 26 near a ranger station on the Crest, less than ten miles away as the crow flies. By day the smoke rose, staining the sky with its brownish-gray plume. By night we could see the glow of the fire, sitting like a baleful hell-beast, waiting to pounce. For days the news talked about the threat the fire posed for JPL and Mt. Wilson, and for days the residents of Big Tujunga Canyon and other parts of the Angeles watched and waited, hoping that the fire would be taken seriously and dealt with accordingly. Continue reading →

Forest Service Reverses Night Flight Policy

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported that the U.S. Forest Service has reversed their policy banning the use of night flying helicopters to combat wildfires. Although this policy change comes three years too late for residents of the Angeles National Forest, we hope that the policy change will help prevent disasters like the Station Fire in years to come.

For more info, see the following articles:

Forest Service to allow nighttime aerial firefighting in SoCal
August 16, 2012 | 10:27 am

Forest Service ends ban on night flights to battle fires
By Paul Pringle, Los Angeles Times
August 16, 2012, 5:56 p.m.



3rd Annual Station Fire BBQ – Setting the Date

I can hardly believe that we are coming up on the 3rd anniversary of the Station Fire Inferno that destroyed Big Tujunga Canyon, but we are.  As I have done the past two years, I will be hosting a BBQ for Station Fire Survivors, friends and family, all at my cabin in the canyon. My question for you is one of timing.

This year the actual day of the Anniversary falls on a Wednesday, and the weekend following is Labor Day weekend. I know a lot of people have plans on Labor Day proper, so the possible options for the BBQ become:

  • Saturday, August 25
  • Sunday, August 26
  • Saturday, September 1
  • Sunday September 2

To help me decide which day will be best, I have created a poll. Please indicate your preferences below. I have set the poll to close late in the evening on Sunday, August 19, so I have enough time to plan, stock up on supplies, and get the word out.

Please, please, PLEASE repost, forward or otherwise let other Station Fire Survivors know about this.



[poll id=”2″]

Second Annual Station Fire BBQ

It’s hard to believe that nearly two years have passed since the inferno referred to as the Station Fire roared through Big Tujunga Canyon, incinerating homes and landmarks, not to mention thousands upon thousands of acres of wildlands in the Angeles National Forest.

In honor of that tragic event, I will be hosting the Second Annual Station Fire Memorial BBQ at my cabin located at Vogel Flats. Station Fire Survivors, their friends and loved ones, are all invited to join me as we remember what was, share what we have experienced in the aftermath, and come together to plan for our futures.

Additionally, if you wish to donate funds to help defray the costs for hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks, please use the PayPal Donation button below, or donate through PayPal by sending your contribution to donate@angelesrising.org. Any contributions received will be used to buy food and drink for the BBQ. And if there is anything left the funds will be used to cover the operating costs (web hosting, domain registrations, etc.) for the Angeles Rising website.

See you at the BBQ!


Second Annual Station Fire Memorial BBQ

Date: Sunday, August 28, 2011
Time: 11 AM ~ 4 PM
Location: Bronwen’s Cabin in the Canyon
What to Bring: BYOW – Bring Your Own Whatever!
What Will Be Here: Grilled meats, grilled veggies, beer, wine, soda, salads, desert… And my famous lemon-cucumber water!

Kids, dogs, spouses,  friends and loved ones welcome!

If you need a map and directions, RSVP!


Yes! I want to donate to help
cover the costs for the BBQ!