Helicopters Help Tame Montebello Brusher

By City News Service

EGP photo by Fred Zermeno

EGP photo by Fred Zermeno

A brush fire broke out Monday in Montebello near the Whittier Narrows Dam at 12:37 a.m., said a dispatcher with Verdugo Fire Dispatch.

It soon charred around 7 acres of heavy brush inside the Rio Hondo riverbed, near Lincoln Avenue and San Gabriel Boulevard, a news photographer reported from the scene.

A helicopter made water drops on the blaze throughout the night and crews from Montebello, Monterey Park, Downey and Los Angeles County worked to clear a line of vegetation around the flames. No structures were threatened and no evacuations were ordered, the dispatcher said

No injuries were reported.

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July 11, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


2 Responses to “Helicopters Help Tame Montebello Brusher”

  1. Yvonne Watson on July 12th, 2013 1:38 am

    I and other residents in Montebello have been trying to bring attention to the extreme fire hazard in this area and the unacceptable risk it poses to a proposal to build 1,200 homes in the middle of the active Montebello Hills oil field. I have been deeply troubled by information presented in the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Montebello Hills Specific Plan (MHSP).

    Appendix N (Fire Protection Program) of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the MHSP, page 7:

    According to the Montebello Fire Department (see email excerpt below), the largest wildland vegetation fire in recent history was in the Whittier Narrows Dam area. In addition, a recent fire to the northeast of the project area was large enough to have impacted the project if not for the
    fact there was no wind on that day.

    [Email Excerpt]
    Potential for fire threat from the adjacent property to the east is likely, and should be examined further, as the only fire break is a road of about 30 feet in width, and the largest “brush” fire in Montebello Fire Departments recent history was in the Whittier Narrows Dam area, as well as examination of the property to the northeast as a potential, a recent fire was large enough to have impacted the project, the saving factor was that there was no wind on that day. [Email from Gilberto Ruiz to Susan Lindquist de la Parra sent Friday, August 22, 2008 regarding Montebello Hills Specific Plan – Fire Department Comments.]

    The vegetation in the Whitter Narrows Dam area is predominantly a riparian plant community, which is very high in moisture content (see Photos 7 through 9). While is is not impossible for these plants to support a wildland fire, if ignited the fire behavior would be very low in heat intensity and would not exhibit extreme fire behavior conditions. Hence, the risk may be real, but the threat is low…

  2. Yvonne Watson on July 12th, 2013 1:42 am

    Comment continued:

    The “firebreak” road described above is Lincoln Ave.

    This area is well known to our local Montebello Fire Department; in fact,
    Montebello FD along with units from neighboring fire departments have used this same spot near Lincoln and San Gabriel as a practice area for urban wildland interface fire fighting techniques.

    So why doesn’t the MHSP call for adequate defensible space around the proposed housing development? California state law requires 100 feet but the Fire Protection Program (Table 3.3, page 5) calls for a total “defensible space perimeter” of only 70 feet in “Fuel Modification Section D”, the section closest to Lincoln and San Gabriel.

    On July 9, 2012 a 5 alarm fire in the Montebello hills burned a little over 10 acres. This fire took place in the middle of the oil field where the would be developer wants to build homes.

    Thankfully, there was “no wind” on that day either to feed the fire and spread it to existing neighborhoods but many residents in the La Merced area of Montebello were very alarmed to see tall flames atop the oil field ridgeline behind their homes.

    I think it’s time to scrap the assumption “Hence, the risk may be real, but the threat is low.”

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