Station Fire, One Month After

The following is a repost of my first official Editorial on the Angeles Rising website. While I have been very careful to only post news and updates to that site, I felt the need to express an opinion given the onset of investigations into actions taken leading up to the Tujunga Inferno. Take what you like and leave the rest…

Stonyvale Residence Engulfed in FlamesIt’s hard to believe that the Station Fire roared through Big Tujunga Canyon a month ago. In some ways it seems like five minutes ago. In other ways it seems like a lifetime.

In the month since the fire I have gotten to know my neighbors better than I had in thirty years of coming to the canyon, or in ten years of being a resident, myself. This month has taught me about the warmth of strangers, and frustration with  bureaucracies to a greater degree than I realized was possible. So many lessons, so many insights.

The foothill communities of Sunland-Tujunga, La Crescenta and La Cañada have been incredible in their response to our needs, holding fund raisers, organizing community meetings, and helping so many of us to wade through red tape as much as is possible. Likewise, my experience of the Forest Service staff and personnel has been positive in the wake of the fire. Where others might have been rigid and difficult, the responses I have gotten universally have been focused on balancing human needs with human safety. True, there are still questions that remain about events leading up to the Tujunga Inferno, but in the wake of that disaster responses have been balanced and reasonable.

So where do we go from here?

The L.A. Times and other news services will pursue allegations that the Forest Service responded poorly to the Station Fire, but those actions won’t help us move forward as a community. For some residents, the coming investigations will bring a kind of closure, but, again, that is not what is going to help us rebuild.

Given the peculiarities of the Angeles Forest, its strange collection of governing agencies and their associated regulations, there is and is going to continue to be lots of confusion about what can be done by and for each person impacted by the fire. Many of the rules that impact residents on National Forest lands are different from those governing private landowners. And some are the same, given that we share the same wilderness environment.

What I would like to see is a continuation of the cooperative spirit I have seen since the fire. What I would like to see is residents sharing information and resources openly regardless of whether they are on Forest or Private lands. What I would like to see is our strange, eclectic and often counter-culture collection of individuals coming together to form a real community, supporting and encouraging each other to achieve more than we could do on our own. What I would like to see is homes rebuilt and hopes restored.

Together we can make it happen. Together we can rise from the ashes and become something better than we were before.

Care to join me?


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