It was a packed house last night with standing room only at Pasadena Church of the Nazarene as the Station Fire Incident Management Team provided updates on the status of the fire and answered questions from constituents.
Most of the people in attendance were from Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Altadena and Arcadia, and praised the team repeatedly while asking good questions. This is the kind of community meeting I love -- where there's no complacency and people are all fired up (no pun intended)!
First I want to echo the well deserved applause. Chief Mike Dietrich of the U.S. Forest Service, who is the incident commander on the Station Fire, and the rest of the incident command team who spoke to the 300+ people last night -- including Pasadena Battalion Chief Martin Johnson and representatives from Angeles National Forest and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department -- were very informative given the fact that they have been working nearly around the clock since the fire began.
Managing the response to such a devastating fire isn't an exact science.
As of last night, the fire had consumed more than 147,000 acres -- the largest recorded fire in the Angeles National Forest since it was established as a timberland area.
As of last night, the fire was 30 percent contained, and as of today it is 47 percent contained.
Instead of giving you a blow-by-blow account of the meeting, here are some quotes I wrote down as I listened to these dedicated men and women provide their updates:
"I am guardedly optimistic"
"There's no such thing as letting up on this fire."
"We have a long way to go."
"We're trying to keep the fire as high and away from communities as possible."
"This is now a homicide investigation."
"Life is not going to be the same as we know it [in the forest area]."
"The forest will have to stay closed for a long time."
"Firefighters are dealing with treacherous fuel conditions."
"There is unparalleled fire danger."
"There are 4,800 firefighters currently from California and the western United States."
After many questions from the audience, the U.S. Forest Service officials promised better communications out of the incident command center.
In the meantime, keep checking http://inciweb.org/incident/1856 and www.altadenablog.com (thank you, Tim Rutt!) for updates.