August 20, 2008
5 Fires Scorch Griffith Park District’s Councilman Suggests Cause is Suspiciou
By Adolfo Flores; Susan Abram
GRIFFITH PARK -- Five separate fires blazed through brush-filled canyons Saturday in Griffith Park, threatening the Los Angeles Zoo and Travel Town Museum, and charring at least 60 acres.No injuries or structural damage were reported by Saturday evening, and firefighters hoped to have the flames contained by noon today.
A city councilman suggested that having so many fires ignite at the same time and place appeared suspicious. The fires broke out in the same region as at least two other blazes in the past month.
"Somebody is doing something wrong here," said Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes Griffith Park. "We're just sad when they hurt this beautiful land."
Firefighters said they were too busy containing the flames Saturday night to pinpoint any potential causes.
More than 300 firefighters and five water-dropping helicopters from Los Angeles city and L.A. County, Burbank and Glendale battled the flames, which were first reported by park rangers at 2:08 p.m.
Travel Town, a railroad museum, was evacuated, but the rest of the park remained open.
LAFD Deputy Fire Chief Mario Rueda said more than 60 percent of the hot zone was contained by early Saturday evening, and the deployment was later scaled down to 200 firefighters. They expected to continue battling the flames through the night.
The weather remained on their side, he said.
"We're getting normal onshore breezes and no high winds," Rueda said.
Firefighters "really did a heck of a job," he added.
Burbank resident Mike Ruffing, 42, was riding his off-road motorcycle through the park when he found his pathways blocked by firefighters. He stopped to watch, and said they appeared to be making good progress.
"They got rid of it pretty fast," Ruffing said.
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