Coming home from a 70-mile bike ride Saturday afternoonÂ I saw the smoke and my heart leapt into my throat as it seemedÂ pretty much aligned with where our house is located on the other side of the ridge rising up between my location heading west on Sunset Boulevard approaching Benton Way and our street. What I couldn’t be sure of is if the flames generating the plume were on the east side of Silver Lake Boulevard or beyond it to the west.
A hipster in front of me in the bike lane reflexively and entirely non-ironically yelled out “Cool!” when he saw the smoke and I passed him suggesting with a snarl that “cool” was about the worst way to react to anything burning down unless you’re an arsonist or an asshole. “And I’m guessing you’re not an arsonist,” I yelled before cranking hard past him.
I didn’t wait around for him to tell me to fuck off as traffic was clear giving me the opportunity to get across the westbound lanes and in the center of the street between the double yellows to make my left turn. It was about then there when I saw the smoke was well beyond our house and street and I cruised home to find Susan up in the guest bedroom with her binoculars watching the firefighters on-scene battle the blaze. My relief was tempered by the sight of someone’s home being destroyed. And as I watched the firefighters on a neighboring roof battle the flames that seemed to surround them, I hoped no one was or would get hurt. Then the top of a tall pine nearby erupted in orange but quick action snuffed that fright out almost as quickly as it ignited.
I set up my camera on timelapse at 4:30 p.m., approximately 40 minutes after LAFD personnel reportedly arrived at the home that I later found out was located on Descanso Drive. As I understand it the fire was extinguished about 20 minutes into this timelapse. One firefighter sustained burns to his neck during the ordeal, but is expected to recover. None of the neighboring structures sustained any fire damage. The loss is valued at $1.5 million for the structure and $500,000 for the contents.
My respect and appreciation goes to the firefighters for tackling what proved to be a difficult assignment made even moreso by gusting winds and limited access afforded by the winding narrowness of Descanso and its rough and rugged condition. And my heart goes out to the property owner with condolences for what was lost and hopes for what can be rebuilt.