California is so hot and dry that not even soaking rain can ease fall fire peril — even for the smallest of fires, according to federal officials
A firefighter holds a watermelon to cool down after being sprayed with water by a firefighting aircraft during a wildfire on Monday, September 25, 2019 at El Segundo, Calif.
By the next morning on Monday, September 25, fires had destroyed more than 14,000 homes, burned nearly 150,000 acres of land and reached the edge of the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County.
The fires sparked after a gust of heat on Sunday night ignited dry brush, making it impossible for firefighters to suppress them, and they quickly engulfed Los Angeles’s famed Griffith Park. The park is known for its spectacular coastline and has a rich history of recreation for both the public and military, and its trails have become a popular and deadly test for firefighters.
“It’s been a week since they first put down their equipment. It’s time to take your time and assess the situation,” said James Whalin, who oversees Los Angeles Fire Department’s brush fire response. “There are a lot of unknowns.”
Whalin and other Los Angeles firefighters were deployed to the blaze early Monday to fight the largest and deadliest wildfire on the West Coast. Fire officials had predicted that they would reach peak danger around 10 a.m. local time Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of risk,” said Whalin. “The risk factors are huge.”
The fire, which was burning in the brush near the Pacific Ocean, stretched more than three miles and was the largest in the Angeles National Forest. It also became the fourth largest on record in the state, which also includes San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego.
The fire started in what is known as the Santa Ana National Forest, located about 12 miles south of the Ventura County community of Ventura, and spread towards the San Gabriel Mountains, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
The fire, which reached its peak strength at 1,719 acres and destroyed a total of 14,073 homes, was only 30 percent contained as of Monday evening, according to