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Southern California Wildfire Siege 2019


By John M. Malecky July, 2021

Southern California
Wildfire Siege, 2019
By Firestorm HD Productions

Available from:
FSP Books & Videos
188 Central Street, Suite 4
Hudson, MA 01749-1330
Price: $12.95

This DVD is approximately 53 minutes in length and involves coverage of four fires driven by high winds that lasted a span of five days. They are the Tick, Getty, Easy and Maria fires. They involved the Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County and Ventura County Fire Departments with mutual aid from several departments from California and other western US states.

At one fire I spotted a Type II engine from Albuquerque, NM. I found out later that many western states have agreements with California to furnish mutual aid when requested. It is an involved process, but worth learning about if you are interested. It also applies to firefighting aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary.

One of the fires involved the area of the historic Bel Air fire in 1961, which was one of the worst, if not the worst wildland fire in the state’s history. Another fire in Ventura County occurred very near the President Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley. In the first fire, an engine company from Los Angeles County valiantly tries to prevent wind-driven flames from involving a couple of nice homes. They are eventually backed up by a second engine company making their best effort as well; but the wind overcomes their tactics and eventually flames start to take the homes.

Much of the footage involves wildfire suppression supported by fixed wing air tankers and rotary craft. Some of the fixed wing aircraft are huge, like commercial jet size. There was one fixed wing craft by CanadAir which I recognized as being one which is able to swoop down onto a lake for instance and take on water in its tank and they take off again to continue firefighting. There was no slouching here! Firefighters relentlessly fought using handlines from their pumpers and facing extreme heat. Even the videographer put in such a day that he admitted he had to rest from exhaustion, but promised to resume the next day!

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John MaleckySenior Columnist

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