Sunday, May 13, 2007

Someone just... shot down in South LA; BHPD is doing its usual Sunday night traffic stop routine, the LAFD is going about its end-of-the-weekend business and I'm gone on vacation until early June.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

On One Hand...

...the LAFD and allied agencies did a great job keeping the flames off the multi-million dollar homes in Los Feliz. On the other, their pilots were grinding it out all day and all night making crucial water drops. Luckily, none of them augered any of those Bell helos into a dark hillside or sliced through a power line or we'd all be reading a story much different than this one.

The backslapping today becomes the second-guessing of tomorrow when a bunch of firefighters get overrun on a dirt fire road or a helicopter crashes while flying night missions into smoke and fire over urban areas.
photo: Mad Science flickr

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Another Barn Burner**

LAFD is working a major emergency brush in Griffith Park right now. Great vantage from my office on this 95 degree, no humidity day. LAFD's been pouring resources at it for awhile and staging at the Greek Theatre. For about 20 mins, looked like it was darkening down, but then the wind shifted and all hell broke...

Hot, dry brush is fueling this one and they've got a ton of City and County companies committed and no knockdown in sight. So far, no homes destroyed, but this thing still looks really ugly.

It's a busy day throughout the sizzling county.

***UPDATE*** So three-plus hours into the incident, the fire's still raging. Probably going to top out at over 150 acres when all is said and done. They've got a 20-year-old arson suspect being treated for severe burns at Hollywood Presbyterian right now.

It'll be at least 24 hours before this one is fully done. Meantime, the Johnny-Come-Lately L.A. Times got their act together today and are blogging the incident. Welcome to 2007, kids! (Sample of some text taken from the LAT Web site home page(!!!) at 11:33 p.m. The bold is mine. "BREAKING NEWS BLOG: According to the bayor, the blaze has now burned 600 acres."

Meantime, everyone is getting hammered on the call volume because of the heat, but since the Griffith Park incident is virtually all Engines, the City still has plenty of Light Forces available for the other crap.

Out in Malibu, Ventura County Fire is sending a helo to air-ambo someone out of LACoFD's 71's first-in over to UCLA Hospital.

***UPDATE*** 11 p.m. So today's fire might not be the "big one" of the summer (or even the Spring if it stays so hot and dry) but with 33 LAFD companies on the scene and probably at least that, if not more in mutual aid, Griffith Park is getting pretty worked over by fire.

When I started listening to this one go off on OCD 9 at around 1:30 this afternoon, the LAFD was doing what it usually does so well--flood the area with resources. They requested engine companies in groups of 10, which were then divided into As they ramped up the assignment, the wind shifted and moved the fire quickly into tinder dry brush that hadn't burned in years. What happened next is both amazing and fairly predictable: Fast moving flames fed by erratic winds (often caused by the fire itself) and and years of overgrowth long due for the burner.

Again, credit to the LAFD and allied agencies is plenty due here. So far, I've only heard of one structure getting minor damage (I think some embers got into the attic on a hillside home on Shannon Drive. Wood shake roof, natch, the culprit. For shame!) and no lives have been lost. Injuries have been limited to the alleged fire-starter who may have tried to extinguish the blaze before stumbling onto the Roosevelt Golf Course and being scooped up by the LAFD and transported to the hospital.

Mayor Tony V. on the tube right now, tie loosened doing his thing. Meantime, fire is still burning hot and heavy and throwing out tons of embers, which are one of the greatest dangers in a situation like this. Pray for the Marine Layer to make a return to the coast tonight, bringing higher humidities with it.

Also amazing to watch the LAFD and LACoFD helos doing extremely dangerous night drops. They've been on the fire lines for almost 10 hours now and have to contend with smoke, fire, unseen power lines, and, of course, the rising hillsides that like to eat aircraft.

LAFD on the tube right now saying the fire is "laying down for tonight" and they'll try to get a knockdown tomorrow. Councilman LaBonge says it's the worst fire he's seen in Griffith Park since the 1960s. That's what happens, my friends, when the vegetation doesn't burn for 40 years.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

They Just Can't.... themselves. The LAPD, I mean.

It's been a few days since riot cops pushed through MacArthur Park on May Day and shot rubber bullets and foam projectiles at all manner of folks, including the media. Thousands of words in print and minutes on the tube have been thus far expended on the fallout so I won't rant too much about it here.

I am usually quick to jump to the defense of the folks in Blue on this blog....scroll down...but this one seems fairly indefensible.

It is astounding that in 2007, your average LAPD officer is stupid enough to use any type of force on a member of the accredited media. Everything else aside, in a vacuum let's say, this alone is about the worst single thing a uniformed officer could do--almost worse than hitting or shooting an unarmed woman or child. Not only because it's a spectacularly bad decision, but because the self-righteousness of the Fourth Estate alone is enough to make such an event the crime of the century.

Listening to Fox 11 "journalist" Christina Gonzalez scream on camera at you in her finely-tuned and supremely annoying high-pitched whine that "you CAN'T do that" should be enough to make any police officer question whether he or she wants to push a reporter or camera operator. If that's not enough, then you'll be fucked six ways sideways as soon as that videotape starts airing.

In the past, there's been the predictable outrage when the LAPD has threatened and used force on so-called "citizen journalists." These are nothing more than annoying gadflies and run-of-the-mill assholes with digital camcorders whose existence at various events is solely to bait the cops into hitting, shooting or arresting them. But trampling local media is truly beyond the pale, even for your average IQ patrolman or slightly higher IQ (and more muscular) Metro officer.

These reporters are people who cover the Department--and the crimes they are investigating--day in and day out. While laughing at Gonzalez (which she alleges is what the cops did as they pushed her around) is probably the norm behind the yellow police tape at crime scenes and behind closed doors at Parker Center after press conferences, doing so on camera while shoving her camera operator into the dirt is lunacy. And while the average cop probably has wet dreams about pushing the media around, like most fantasies, it's one that is much better left unfulfilled as the reality is a lot harsher than simply washing a set of sheets.

These coppers just don't learn and that's what's really amazing about the LAPD. Institutional memory is at once long and terribly short.

The scene at MacArthur Park (where it seems that officers faced a threat that equaled the average Palestinian rock-throwing teenager) was reminiscent of footage out of the Middle East or South Korea when those riot cops decide to quell protests. Heads will rightly roll on this one.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

LAFD Experiment

A few words on the incident page system being tested by the LAFD. They recently beta'd an alert notification system not unlike It was pretty good, though if Brian Humphrey is reading this, I'd suggest adding a first-in fire station district to each incident page, so those who are conversant in station locations could instantly know what part of the city the call was going down (to their credit, they already include Thomas Guide pages, but that's a pain in the ass for most of us to rely on).

They took the system offline a few days ago, but I hope it comes back's a great step in the technology direction for the LAFD.