5:06pm: Helicopters are circling overhead where I am right now, not too far from an ongoing 200+ acre fire in Griffith Park, a little bit east of the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles. Flames are still live, and there's
talk of arson an arson suspect in custody.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Swingsha. Bear in mind that this was shot from a number of miles away, over the hill, in Burbank. You can see the fire/smoke plumes from just about anywhere in LA right now.
LATIMES blog has good updates.
It started as a small brush fire in the park, at about 120pm. I could see the smoke plume all the way from the NPR studios in Culver City a few hours ago. Driving from there towards this site, north on Western through Koreatown (a few miles away), I could see very large flames and clumps of black and brown smoke above the chaparral hills. It's huge. And it's crazy hot (100 F), gusty-windy, and dry out today, unseasonably so.
Humans have been evacuated from the LA Zoo and the Autry Museum (both inside the park), but I understand the more fragile critters inside the zoo (about 1,000 of 'em!) are instead staying put, under protection. No word on the ponies and the carousel, and the teeny tiny steam engine ride.
BoingBoing pal Michael P. points to more photos on Flickr, and says,
We must go free the animals at the zoo NOW.
(Thanks also, Ape Lad and others)
UPDATE, 745pm: OK, there are a hell of a lot more helicopters, flying even lower and more frequently now. I guess some of these are news choppers, but some may be first responders, too? All I can hear are sirens and roaring helicopters overhead. I think we're about a quarter mile or less from the center of the burn area (though not in any immediate path of harm). They're saying it's 20-25% under control now. The numbers don't feel too comforting at the moment.
The power is out in much of our neighborhood now. Our DSL has been down for a while, and I'm using my EVDO card to blog this.
7:53: Someone just called me from a few blocks away via mobile, even closer to the burn site, and says the fire is coming closer to where we are, moving down the hill, towards houses, spreading out and covering an even larger area. The hills are glowing red, much ash in the air, heavy smoke smell. Lots of people in the streets looking up at the burn. Small planes circling. We're packing up a few essentials now, just in case the wind gets super hinky and we receive an evacuation order.
Local TV news is reporting the fire was started by a golfer who tossed a cigarette aside while playing golf in the course nearby.
8:30pm: Friend shot this photo a few blocks away, an hour ago. The air is extremely thick with smoke and ash. More homes now without power, increasingly. Officers going door to door instructing people of mandatory evacuation orders a few blocks way. All the newscasts I'm watching are covering the immediate area outside our house, which is weird. Windows and doors all closed here, neighbors doing the same. Sky overhead at night now is dark orange-red, hills look like lava flowing down. Hot Santa Ana winds, gusty, fast, from the northwest. I've lived here for years, through many fires, never seen anything this big.
8:50pm: Cops shutting down Los Feliz boulevard (big street here) now, to minimize incoming traffic from gawkers. Unclear if the shutdown order will make it more difficult to get out. Police on bullhorns giving mandatory evacuation orders about 5 blocks from here. They're closing more streets by the minute, and placing evacuees in a nearby high school shelter.
9:01pm: They're describing the fire's movement as having "exploded" over the past hour. No homes burned yet, but lots in imminent danger, and evacuations under way. 250 acres burned now. Landmark "Dante's View" destroyed, bird refuge in immediate danger. "Deer and coyotes here are running for their lives," a councilman at the burn site is saying on local news right now. Some animals who live in the park are running into the street now.
9:08pm: Cops going door to door evacuating people nearby now. Fire appears to be spreading via embers? New spots of burn now, burn area obviously growing, even from our distance. Guy on TV: "How did the firefighters not see this coming and plan for contingency? It's moved all over the place now."
9:19pm: 300 acres estimated burned now. Here's a cameraphone video shot a few blocks away, at 7:55pm, by M.D. Video Link.
9:45pm: Now, 600 acres burned -- several times what was estimated an hour ago. Winds close to the fire are very hot and very strong now, which may be Venturi effect.
Outside my window, it looks like a giant SRL show on the hill. Big flame tornado shapes reaching up into the sky.
We're packing stuff up now. Homes close to us are being given evacuation orders and we might need to get out if things change once again for the worse. Ash and live embers are floating in the air, eyes burn, throat itchy when you step outside.
Policeman on TV saying lots of homeless people who live inside the park, up in the chaparral hills, are evacuating onto the street.
Electricity outages and mobile phone problems are resulting from the destruction of (or damage to) towers inside the park.
Reader comment: David says,
Hey, I live a mile under the fire. We've been watching the new flare up for the past few hours. Thought I'd share photos from it: Link. This is also where the Greek Theatre is as well -- and we think its gone!sara says,
A friend of mine works in the zoo as security most days. After I read the article here I called him to find out what was up, and he said he was posted on one of the ridges above the zoo keeping watch. He sent me several videos of the helicopters flying back and forth, and you can see the bright flames coming over the crest of the next hill over. They're not very good (exceptionally small) but you can definitely see the flames. He's off work now, and the zoo is out of danger (when the wind changed, I think that is when it headed towards the homes) but he noted when driving out that the homes that had already been evacuated? Had also already been *looted*! Where the heck was LAPD? I'm hoping he'll be able to get the videos up, but he's had a pretty long day and the zoo will apparently be trying to open tomorrow as scheduled.Mack Reed says,
Here's a Flickr set shot this morning in the wasteland that the fire made of the hills above Commonwealth Canyon. What's creepy is the huge number of suddenly-exposed beer empties that people hucked into the brush figuring, "Nobody will ever spot these." Link to Flickr set, and related blogging.la post is here: Link.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.