We create almost everything on the internet, but we control almost none of it.
As time passes, I fear that more and more of what happened in those days will live only in memory. The internet has slowly unraveled since 2011: Image-hosting sites went out of business, link shorteners shut down, tweets got deleted, and YouTube accounts were shuttered. One broken link at a time, one of the most heavily documented historical events of the social media era could fade away before our eyes.
If Edward McCain (t) hasn’t come across this article yet, it might make an interesting case study for this year’s Dodging the Memory Hole conference. Definitely an interesting case of people archiving their online content.
A small brush fire broke out today just a few blocks from the house.
A helicopter buzzing a palm tree
At roughly 4:09pm I noticed an incredibly low flying Los Angeles County Sherrif’s Office water drop helicopter buzz our neighborhood nearly missing the neighbors’ 50ft palm tree. There had been helicopter noise for about 10 minutes prior, so this got my immediate attention. I went outside to see a copious amounts of white smoke coming from the neighborhood just about 2 blocks north of the house.
I put on my shoes to see where the fire was originating and walked up the street.
A satellite map of the exact location of the blaze.
Arrival at the Scene
I walked up to the rough scene (or as close as I could get given the situation and the smoke) at about 6:22. Traffic is being stopped on Altadena Drive from roughly Canyon Close Dr. up past Roosevelt Ave.
Firefighters are connecting hoses at Canyon Close Drive and running them up the street. I suspect this is to potentially defend the homes on the top side of the street because the fire and certainly the smoke are close enough to warrant it.
Batallion Chief arriving at the scene just a few minutes after I do.
Smoke is getting thicker as I get closer to the scene of the fire.
Firefighter connecting hose at the closest hydrant, potentially to protect nearby homes.
Water drops seem to have stopped for the moment and groups of firefighters are arriving to descend down into Eaton Canyon to finish off the blaze. By rough count there were about 50-60 firefighters down in the canyon and roughly another 30 or so additional firefighters and other first responders up on the street providing support.
They’re heading half a block up to the Henninger Trail Head to descend down to the scene of the fire.
Group of ground firefighters arrive to battle the blaze on the ground.
It’s now 4:43 pm and water drops have stopped for the past 10 minutes or so. It’s now roughly 45 minutes after the firefight started. Here are some pictures from the vantage point just above the location of the fire just a few feet away from the canyon edge. Based on my guestimate the fire took up approximately 2-4 acres of space which was primarily dry scrubbrush and several trees in the middle of the arroyo.
on the North side of Altadena Drive, to get a better view of the scene.
Chainsaws, shovels, and picks in use to knock down the last of the fire.
Firefighters putting out the last of the blaze.
View down into the canyon
Reporting live from the scene
With things beginning to look like they’re winding down, and with a clearer view of the scene now that the smoke has abated significantly I take a moment to do a quick video recap for the viewers at home.
Things appear to be under control by about 5pm, so I headed home. Stopping to ask local police how long the street is likely to be closed through rush hour.
I arrive at the house and toss in the coordinates of the fire into Google Maps to discover the center of the fire was 2,426 feet from the house (roughly 2 blocks away.) It was easy to get exact coordinates given the size of the trees in the fire zone and the specificity of the images in Google’s satellite view. We definitely dodged one today, particularly given the dryness of the last year and the high winds we’ve seen all afternoon.
It also dawns on me that I took a hike through this exact portion of Eaton Canyon yesterday morning. My checkin at the time captures a photo across the canyon almost 30 hours before the incident. I’ll try to get another sometime this week to provide a direct comparison.
David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post won a Pulitzer for his Trump coverage, but he couldn’t have done it without help from his readers. In the first episode of our new podcast, Pull up a Chair, David talks with NYU’s Jay Rosen about the power of putting readers at the heart of journalism.
An awesome little start of a podcast. I’d definitely come back to this.