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09 May 2007

Fire in L.A.'s Griffith Park. I'm heartsick to find out that, contrary to earlier reports that the blaze was close to being contained, we've actually lost at least 600 acres of parkland -- and there's currently "no end in sight." God, I used to live right over there in Los Feliz -- the area being evacuated is just a few blocks up the hill from my old apt. [More:]Griffith Park is just a beautiful, rambling, hilly oasis, with the zoo, the observatory (where the closing scene of "Rebel Without a Cause" was filmed!), riding paths, golf courses...really, one of the most treasured spots in the city. I remember taking my eldest nephew to the carousel in the park when he was just a toddler.

This comes just a few weeks after a middling-size fire up in Studio City that was scarily close to my boyfriend's place... and it's only the beginning of May!

The temps are supposed to cool down in a few days (it was in the mid-90s today), and I'm hoping we get a little moisture in the air, but I fear this is going to be an exceptionally bad fire season in SoCal. *sigh*
OMG, that's so terrible. I haven't been to LA but that sounds like if parts of Golden Gate Park burned. What is this world coming to?
posted by matildaben 09 May | 03:28
Scody, I'm so sorry to hear this. How terrible. Our area is on fire also. As of this moment I can smell smoke. Georgia and Northern Florida are suffering from terrible wildfires also. Wildfires are dotting the map all the way down to Miami. Humidity is less than 35 percent, which is terribly unusual. We need rain deperately.
posted by LoriFLA 09 May | 06:07
I am heartsick also. . .Griffith Park does not have the cache that Central Park does, but it's bigger, wilder, and I have a lot of memories, from different stages of my life, from there.
posted by danf 09 May | 08:50
oh crap it's one of the loveliest parts of an amazing city, this is so bad.
posted by matteo 09 May | 10:02
I love Griffith Park. I remember the carousel and the zoo from my first trip to LA, circa 1997.
posted by muddgirl 09 May | 10:48
As of this morning, they say it's now 40% contained, and no landmarks are presently threatened. The temps are supposed to be a little lower today, with less dry wind. Knock on wood.

Lori, I hope things are contained in your area soon too! My fingers are crossed for rain for you as well.
posted by scody 09 May | 10:58
I remember visiting Griffith Park several times when I was a kid. Had lots of fun at the zoo, saw the observatory a couple times. I hope the fire gets contained soon.
posted by deborah 09 May | 12:11
I remember when my old car died and I had to rely on the L.A. public transit to commute from home in North Hollywood to work in East Pasadena. (I left that job a year before they opened the Gold Line train that actually would have made it convenient.) Of the various alternate routes, not the fastest but the most fun involved bus #96 which goes right through Griffith Park, stopping at the L.A. Zoo and the Gene Autry Western Museum. As much fun as an L.A. bus can be.

I have many other fond memories of Griffith Park going wa-a-a-ay back. I haven't been to the Observatory since its latest makeover, so I'm extra glad it was saved. Apparently the only attraction in the park destroyed by the inferno is Dante's View. The irony meter is pegged again.
posted by wendell 09 May | 15:36
Wendell, I agree - that route is great! That's definitely about as good as a public transportation commute gets in L.A.

The Captain's Roost (another hiking spot) was destroyed along with Dante's View. The total acreage lost at this point is a little over 800.

It sounds like they expect they can finally contain it tonight -- the temps are about 10 degrees cooler today, the wind isn't as bad (or hot), and the relative humidity has increased into the 30s (up from 2% -- yes, TWO PERCENT! -- yesterday).
posted by scody 09 May | 16:28
I probably won't be popular for pointing out that wildfires are a natural part of the lifecycle for a chapparal ecosystem as in Griffith Park.

It will look less bucolic for the next decade or so but eventually it will come back.

Fortunately, nobody was killed as in '33.
posted by stilicho 09 May | 17:43
I'm not bringing out the long knives for you, stilicho; it is a valid point, but we had to worry about those unnatural landmarks that were located in that natural setting, like the Observatory, the Zoo, the Merry-Go-Round and the houses just outside the park. And we do wish the natural brush clearing could be limited to under a hundred acres at a time. But anybody who knows any L.A. history, hearing about 'a fire in Griffith Park' will get a chill up their spine thinking about 1933.
posted by wendell 09 May | 18:11
I probably won't be popular for pointing out that wildfires are a natural part of the lifecycle for a chapparal ecosystem as in Griffith Park.

Yep, people in L.A. generally know that -- it's something that's been pointed out in the reporting, as well. The damage done is still quite upsetting, though, and the risk to major landmarks (not to mention homes, the zoo, wildlife, etc.) was still very significant.

And natural lifecycles notwithstanding, this really doesn't bode well for the fire season, either -- it's the driest season on record. That's bad news.

All part of the risk of living here, sure, but forgive me if my first response to seeing the Observatory nearly go down in flames isn't to shrug.
posted by scody 09 May | 18:12
:-( This is one of the gems of LA. Were the pony rides still there? I wonder if my father remembers the '33 fire...he says he remembers the '32 earthquake--watching my grandfather shaving and then being grabbed up and taken outside.
posted by brujita 10 May | 00:47
I had been several times in the last 2 years before I moved - spaghetti westerns on the Gene Autry's lawn, a visit to the temporary planetarium, the zoo and a couple of short hikes. I read about Amir's Garden and wanted to go see it (after I figured out how to find it - tried once). Studying the maps, I can't really tell if it was one of the burned areas. I hope not.
posted by PY 11 May | 04:11
(hey, it seems the idea for his garden was born after one such fire..."Around 1971 a brush fire burned a substantial portion of the chaparral...Amir was saddened by the damage the fire inflicted. One day he approached Griffith Park authorities and, to their amazement, asked whether he could get permission to create a garden on top of the hill behind the golf course.")
posted by PY 11 May | 04:13
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