Residents who lost structures in 2 California fires file claims against government agencies

S-2T dropping near electronic site
S-2T air tanker dropping retardant near an electronic site on Mt Laguna at 3:29 p.m. during the Chariot Fire, July 8, 2013. HPWREN photo.

Victims who lost homes and cabins in two fires last year in southern California have filed claims against two public agencies alleging they are responsible for starting the blazes.

Chariot Fire

10News in San Diego is reporting that some of the owners of the 100 cabins that burned at the Al Bahr Shrine Camp east of San Diego on Mt. Laguna are claiming that the fire was started by the operation of a Bureau of Land Management vehicle. The Chariot Fire started July 6, 2013 near the Butterfield Ranch in the Anza-Borrego Desert, 3.000 vertical feet below the community of Mt. Laguna. Managed by CAL FIRE, it burned into the Cleveland National Forest not far from the Mt. Laguna Engine Station. In addition to wiping out many of the structures at the Shrine Camp, it threatened electronic sites at the former Mt. Laguna Air Force Base.

From 10News:

“We’ve hired experts and we’ve done an investigation,” [attorney John] Fiske said. “We believe that a Bureau of Land Management Jeep, driven by a Bureau of Land Management officer, started the fire in the desert and it burned 7,000 acres — the equivalent of 11 square miles.”

Fiske said the experts believe the person driving the Jeep didn’t notice. He has filed a claim against the BLM on behalf of Woodworth, the Al Bahr Shrine Camp and nearly 100 other cabin owners.

Wildfire Today’s coverage, including more photos, of the Chariot Fire.

Powerhouse Fire

From the AP:

Victims of a wildfire that burned 24 homes have sued the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, claiming the utility started the huge blaze and failed to properly maintain power lines and equipment.

About 100 plaintiffs, ranging from homeowners to a camp for disabled children, filed the lawsuit last month alleging negligence, dangerous condition of public property and other grounds, the Daily News reported Wednesday (

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The Powerhouse Fire burned 53 structures, including two dozen homes, and more than 30,000 acres near Santa Clarita and in Angeles National Forest. It began May 30 near a hydroelectric power plant and burned for about 10 days.

Wildfire Today’s coverage of the Powerhouse Fire.

Updated information on the Powerhouse Fire north of Los Angeles

The Powerhouse Fire is burning thousands of acres north of Los Angeles. On Saturday it burned up to and around the communities of Lake Elizabeth and Lake Hughes and Sunday it began transitioning from the mountains out into the Antelope Valley. The current estimate, as of 4 p.m. Sunday, is that the fire has burned about 25,000 acres and is 20 percent contained.

We are putting the most current and detailed information about the fire in our original article, which we update at least once or twice a day. There are also updated maps of the Powerhouse fire at that location.

California: some firefighters released from the Powerhouse Fire

(UPDATE at 6:40 a.m. PT, June 5, 2013)

Since the firefighters are wrapping up the Powerhouse fire north of Los Angeles, this will be the last update unless significant activity occurs.

Residents have been allowed back into all of the communities affected by the fire. Proof of residency is required to gain access behind the road closures. Future fire growth is expected to be minimal. Crews continue to complete line construction, patrol and mop-up. Excess fire resources are being demobilized so they can be ready to respond to other incidents.

  • Structures Destroyed: 16
  • Acres: 32,032
  • Containment: 65%
  • Estimated Cost: $11,400,000


(UPDATE at 3:25 p.m. PT, June 4, 2013)

Map of Powerhouse Fire, June 3, 2013
Map of Powerhouse Fire, 10:22 p.m. PT, June 3, 2013

Firefighters are beginning to get a better handle on the Powerhouse Fire north of Los Angeles. Fire spread was minimal overnight with only 24 acres being added. The majority of active fire is along Elizabeth Canyon and Hughes Lake Road northwest to Sawtooth Mountain.

Today crews continued to strengthen fire lines in the southern portion of the fire. Hand crews supported by air resources took advantage of opportunities to construct direct fireline on the west side of the fire. In the Sawtooth Mountain and Sawmill Mountain areas the fire has potential to spread. Fuels in the area have not burned since 1928.

The size is listed at 32,032 acres with 60 percent containment. Some of the resources assigned to the fire include: 2,034 personnel, 155 fire engines, 54 hand crews, 11 helicopters, 27 dozers, 8 air tankers, 33 water tenders. The total estimated cost to date is $8.7 million.

Residents have been allowed to return to the communities of Green Valley, Leona Valley, Elizabeth Lake and Lake Hughes. The evacuation order for the Fairmont area of Antelope Acres was lifted today at noon. Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake Canyon Roads remain closed.

Carlton Joseph’s Type 1 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire Monday at 6 p.m. The fire is being run under a unified command with the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE, and Los Angeles County. In addition to Mr. Joseph, the other Incident Commanders are Dave Richardson, John Tripp, and Phil Veneris.

Helitanker 718, Powerhouse Fire
Helitanker 718 getting water from Elizabeth Lake. Photo by Greg Cleveland.


(UPDATE at 5:48 a.m. PT, June 4, 2013)

There has been very little change in the fire perimeter of the Powerhouse Fire over the last 24 hours. Firefighters are cleaning up the fireline and burning out to remove fuels. We will post more details around the middle of the day today.


(UPDATE at 9:22 p.m. PT, June 3, 2013)

The Powerhouse fire is now listed at 32,008 acres and 60 percent containment. Today there were 2,185 personnel assigned to the fire. Higher humidities today slowed the spread of the fire, in spite of the strong winds.


(UPDATE at 11:43 a.m. PT, June 3, 2013)

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory which includes the portion of the Powerhouse fire that has burned out into the Antelope Valley. This is not good news for firefighters. The winds are predicted to be out of the southwest at 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45. The area near the fire can expect gusts as high as 55 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening. Similar conditions will likely redevelop Tuesday afternoon and evening.


(UPDATE at 8:38 a.m. PT, June 3, 2013; updated map added)

Map of the north end of the Powerhouse Fire
Map of the north end of the Powerhouse Fire, 12:55 a.m. June 3, 2013 (click to enlarge)

The Powerhouse Fire continued to spread across thousands of acres Sunday after burning around the communities of Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake. Firefighters protected hundreds of homes but six burned in the rapidly spreading fire.

Continue reading “California: some firefighters released from the Powerhouse Fire”