Posted by: GeekHiker | December 8, 2009

Station Fire Photos

Caltrans opened Highway 2 a couple of weeks ago into the Angeles National Forest.  I headed up on Saturday, hoping to get a few photos in before the storm that hit the L.A. area on Monday caused the whole area to slide or be covered in snow.

As I drove up, there were lots of people doing the same thing: touring the disaster area.  In between, road construction crews were moving up and down the road, desperately shoring up what they could before the wet season began.  The forest itself is closed.

I didn’t get to shoot as many pictures as I wanted due to the forest closure, mostly just pulling the car off to the side and shooting out the windows.  According to the Forest Service employees who stopped while I was framing a macro shot, everything off pavement was considered Forest Service land and rangers were out ticketing.  I always thought the highway shoulder was also part of the state highway property, but what do I know?

So I didn’t linger and moseyed along, and the devastation was shocking.  Stripped of vegetation, the naked geology of the land was clearly visible.  Even more than that, the size of the burn area is astounding.  It’s one thing to see it on maps, something else to drive through mile after mile of it.

Anyway, I think the pictures speak for themselves:

Station Fire 01
In La Canada Flintridge, showing how close the fire got to housing tracts

Station Fire Pano 01
Looking down into Switzer’s Picnic Area, trailhead for the Bear Canyon Hike

Station Fire 03
Denuded area near Switzers

Station Fire 02
Hopscotch nature of the fire, skipping or only partially burning trees

Station Fire 04
The sign says it all

Station Fire 05
Burned flanks of Strawberry Peak

Station Fire 06
A little bit of green survives on this otherwise scorched bush

Station Fire Pano 02
Along Highway 2, striped of all vegetation

Station Fire 08
Trailhead sign

Station Fire 07
Burned area near Chilao



  1. Great pics. Amazing devastation.

  2. Wow. Similar to the scene here in San Diego a few years ago, but even more chilling to me personally because I first started hiking up in the Angeles. I remember being completely enchanted by the vine-covered trees along the Arroyo Seco trail, and feeling like I was in an ancient forest. I guess the fire recovery will bring a whole new set of scenes and memories, but it will take a while…thanks for documenting this!

  3. The trailhead sign is sad…..

  4. oh man, that is so sad, especially that last photo. everything looks so naked and vulnerable…

  5. That trailhead sign is powerful.

    “The forest itself is closed” sounds weird to me for some reason. It’s like the next line should read ‘and then we turned off the sun’.

    Or, it could be these new cleanse pills making me crazy.

  6. I will take picture number 3 as most sad.

    This may be tiredness talking, but you know what really makes me sad? Homeless bunnies. Or even worse-dead bunnies. I see this pictures, and all I can think about are little bunnies running for their little bunny lives. Maybe they’re a little Beatrix Potter looking with their little bunny scarves and bunny backpacks, but still sad nonetheless. Not all the bunnies made it. 😦

    Thanks for the photo sharing.

  7. Wow, it brought back memories of my Mt. St Helens trip years ago! Esp. love the “burned sign” pic — simple and yet somehow dramatic!

  8. […] in the National Forest will most likely close again during this weekend’s wet weather, but GeekHiker’s post gives a good idea of what it’s like to drive in the area – there are a lot of rangers […]

  9. Chilling.

  10. It’s the photos of the partially burned tree and bush that get me. Man.

  11. That trailhead sign is really something. I think you should submit that to the NPS or some other mag, would make a great accompanying photo to a published story. A picture really is worth 1,000 words.

  12. It reminds me of Big Bear many many years ago when I was young…… not 87 like I am now. It took a long long time to recover. I wonder what it looks like now. There’s nothing to look at in Nevada, the mountains are just mud, so I appreciate what I used to see. Maybe I can go back in the next 20 or 30 years.

  13. I lived in La Crescenta for 30 years and moved to Northern California 6 years ago. I watch this fire via the news and e-mails from our friends in So. Calif. terrified as I watched it threaten our home of 30 years. I have two questions however that remained unanswered and I would love to see if someone can answer them for me. #1: Has a cause of the fire been determine? #2: Why are the towers at Mt. Wilson not cleared on an annual basis? Should these towers ever be destroyed by fire, it would be devastating to all of Southern California. Certainly the cost of having them cleared would be worth it considering the consequences. Does anyone have the answers?

  14. Wow great (and extremely sad) shots. I still want to get up there and see it eventually. Good thing you went before the mudslides this past weekend.

  15. Derek – Thanks!

    Amanda – Welcome to the site. Yeah, I remember the devastation of those fires, particularly out by Julian. Hopefully the winter rains will be plentiful this year and spur new growth…

    CMACC – It was sad, and in a weird way, interesting…

    BlakSpring – It’s definitely easy to tell where the most intense burning was…

    TheCoconutDiaries – Yeah, not my best writing in that sentence…

    MissMcCracken – I think I’ve posted before, somewhere, on the fact that the vast majority of the wildlife deals with the fire okay (not having houses built on concrete foundations to lose helps).

    K – Thanks. Not a bad shot, considering it was done from the car!

    ModernHiker – Thanks for the link!

    Homer-Dog – Indeed

    AbsurdBeats – I wish I’d had more time/freedom to shoot that tree…

    Spleeness – Aw, shucks, thanks, but I’m sure they’ve got plenty of pictures!

    Teto Heffington – Thanks for stopping by. I think the area up by Big Bear is mostly recovered. It takes time, but it’s only long on the human scale.

    Robin – The cause is arson, but the perpetrator(s) have not been caught. I was actually at Mt. Wilson the weekend before the blaze. Despite the tree cover you see from the webcam, the underbrush is mostly cleared, so most blazes would simply move through the short grass and leave everything else alone. The land surrounding Mt. Wilson is FS land, and is very, very difficult topography (very steep) and difficult and expensive to clear on a regular basis.

    Mel – I saw the storm coming and figured it was time to go…

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