Mid-Winter Brush Fire Doused

An LAFD helicopter helps attack flames burning the hillside below the Asilomar bluffs and adjacent to the Palisades Bowl mobile home park along PCH just west of Temescal Canyon Road. Photo: Jamie Budge
An LAFD helicopter helps attack flames burning the hillside below the Asilomar bluffs and adjacent to the Palisades Bowl mobile home park along PCH just west of Temescal Canyon Road. Photo: Jamie Budge

A brush fire with 10- to 20-foot flames scorched five hillside acres between the Palisades Bowl mobile home park and the Asilomar bluffs last Thursday, but a quick, area-wide response by firefighters contained the blaze in a little more than an hour. There were no injuries or structural damage, according to an LAFD spokesperson. “The helicopters knocked it down for us,” said Captain James Varney of Station 23 on Sunset, which was the first company to respond to the fire around 1:40 p.m. The helicopters arrived within 10 minutes of the call, Varney said. Three city helicopters and one county helicopter fought the blaze, flying to the Santa Ynez reservoir in the Highlands to fill their tanks, then taking turns spraying the water over the flaming hillside. The fire was caused by an overheated transformer in a power line which sent sparks into the brush. This occurred when DWP was working on power lines above the brush along the west end of the Asilomar bluffs above the Palisades Bowl, just west of Temescal Canyon Road and Tahitian Terrace. Seventeen fire companies from the L.A. Fire Department responded, as did two companies from Santa Monica, and four county work crews. The combination of heavy tinder-dry brush, deep terrain, and high winds endangered the homes above and below. “I could see flames threatening the top of the hill and the trailer park,” said Varney. Several companies were stationed at the top of the Asilomar bluffs near Porto del Mar to protect the homes just above the hillside. The fire came within 100 feet of Palisades Bowl, according to freelance photographer Jamie Budge, who has lived in the park for over five years. Budge said he first saw the smoke while riding on the beach bike path between 1 and 2 p.m. By the time he arrived home, he said he was surprised to see the fire fast approaching the mobile home park. “I got real worried when I saw that an ember had set a palm tree on fire. People were hosing down their roofs. If it wasn’t for the fire department, given the way the wind was blowing, it could have been a real disaster.” Firefighters stood on roofs hosing down a number of palm trees at the Bowl which had caught on fire. There was no structural damage at the Palisades Bowl, but there was damage to some outdoor carpeting and patio furniture. L.A. County camp crews cut a fire line all the way along the perimeter of the burned area, and were able to complete their work before dark. “We cut a little trench in case something rolled down, like a burning stump,” Varney explained. Some firefighters remained on watch into the night, in case there was something still smoldering that might have suddenly sparked. “I think we got lucky this was just brush,” Varney said. “It started with that little bit of sparking. People need to be very aware of anything out there smoking-hot exhaust, catalytic converters. And we need to keep our fingers crossed for rain.”