Huge Wildfire Licks at Avalon as Catalina Burns

Early today a brush fire broke out on Catalina near the airport. It’s spread across hundreds of acres and nearly six miles to the city of Avalon. At this time it appears that one home has been lost and at least four other structures. Firefighters have been ferried in as hundreds of residents have been evacuating the island entirely. Catalina Express is running special all-night ferries to meet the demand. Other residents are still on the island, many evacuated their homes only to wait down on the pier as the fire fighting efforts continue just over the ridge behind Avalon.

I had a meeting down in San Pedro this evening so I made a quick zip down to the point to see what I could see. The smoke was quite apparent in the southern sky, as I got close to the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Catalina fire

Another photo after the jump.

Those evacuted from Catalina are being housed at two Red Cross shelters. Camp Pendleton is helping with the fire supression effort, especially with transporting firefighting equipment.

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The LATimes has some really good coverage. Daily Breeze has even more.

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2 Replies to “Huge Wildfire Licks at Avalon as Catalina Burns”

  1. Cybele,

    This is shaping up to be the scariest fire season I’ve ever seen in my 28 years in Southern CA. The first year I lived here was 1979, and Mt. Baldy burned. My neighborhood in the IE, including my house, burned to the ground in 1983. I’ve been through the 1993 Laguna Beach fire. I lived in Silverado Canyon in 1997 when we had two big fires that cut us off from the world. I also was a CDF volunteer in Running Springs at the 2003 Old Fire. I have a house in Idyllwild in addition to my loft downtown, and three of the five firefighters that died last October in the Esperanza Fire were men I knew well.

    Here we are with less than 4 inches of rain all season, early hot weather, and two years ago we had record rainfall which grew a bumper crop of brush. I am something of an expert on wildfire behavior, and let me say that I’ve never seen it this ominous in SoCal. Remember, these past few days we have seen major fires in places that have not burned in many decades… with very little wind.

    Fuel modification and fire abatement are not a joke – your homes and very possibly your lives depend on it. All I can say is that if I am at my mountain place and I see a big pall of smoke nearby, I’m getting outta there double time. The things I saw on the firelines in 2003, with 200-300 foot flame lengths and spotting half a mile ahead of the fireline, scared the sh** out of me. If anyone who lives in an urban/wildland interface area (such as near Griffith Park, Malibu, Tujunga Canyons, etc – even parts of the PV Peninsula, Puente Hills and eastern OC) has a fire coming their direction this year, get the hell out. A garden hose is about as useful against something like that as “pissing into the wind”.

    My best wishes to Catalina, since this looks real bad. I saw the smoke rising from LA very clearly. Already our heroes in the red trucks (and yellow and white and green trucks) are getting stretched thin. We’ve not seen anything yet I am afraid.

  2. Catalina has received about 2 inches of rain since January – pretty bad for an Island that never has much over drought-level conditions anyway.

    It breaks my heart to think of the damage being done now in the interior . . . and what would be lost if the fire reaches and proceeds through town.

    So much history, so much important ecology . . . .

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