It was a smoky Sunday in the Foothills. The sun had burned through the inversion layer, an eerie muted-orange. Len and I sat on the porch, hoses at the ready. Watching. Waiting.
Suddenly, there was the sound of a new helicopter circling overhead. The hatch opened. A rope extended and a yellow-clad figure began to descend.
It was she. The Anonymous Source.
The Anonymous Source is an an attractive lady in her 40s who keeps me supplied with long-hidden true accounts of locals.
She landed, precipitously, at our feet.
Where’s the fire? she asked.
Heck if we know, I replied.
We had awakened that morning to nothing but smoke. Turned on the television and nada. Nothing. Sports. Paid programming and recaps of Senator Kennedy’s funeral.
We went inside and cranked up the computer, a 1995 Gateway desktop floppy-drive PC. Beige.
First stop? Sam Whitefield’s Facebook group, aptly titled, La Cañada Fire Information. Sure enough, the information was there. Thanks to Sam, not the mainstream media, we knew the exact location of the fire.
Next stop? Kathy Christie Hernandez’ blog. Kathy is the LCHS PTA president and a Stanford-educated engineer.
Want to know about the evacuation orders four hours before the reverse 911 call? Ask Kathy.
Want to hear the police and fire radio transmissions through the Internet? Read Kathy’s Facebook posts.
Want to see the latest photos? Videos of Greenridge and Ocean View? Taken three minutes ago? Is school open tomorrow? Is there a meeting tonight? How many planes will fly and where and when? No time for the hourly City Hall report? It was all on Facebook.
And a comment about the firefighters from Kathy: Those people are heroes. We need to throw a parade or a big party for them and their families. It’s incredible that no structures burned here in La Cañada, and I hope they can continue being that effective in neighboring communities.
The Anonymous Source looked morose.
Now what, I asked.
She pointed to the television set. At last, there was coverage of the Station fire.
But at what cost? Those news vans that careen self-importantly through our town? The reporters always on a good hair day. Where’s Officer Smith when you need him?
They stand on the bridges and in the parking lots, the fires framed behind them with an angled lens that brings the background closer. Hours later, they repeat old facts in breathless voices. The houses lost. No containment. The people hurt. Fanning the flames of fear. And then, as they sign off, the anchors tell the perfectly coifed, perfectly safe reporters, “Be careful out there,” as if they were in harm’s way.
And then, the saddest news. Two firefighters were killed near Acton.
The real heroes are the firefighters who saved our town. And the two heroes who died fighting the fire.
Thank you. Thank you. And peace and strength to your loved ones.
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The real heroes are the firefighters
By Anita Susan Brenner
September 3, 2009