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Third fire in two days breaks out in Elysian Park

Photo by Scott Fajack

Another day, another fire in Elysian Park. Firefighters this afternoon knocked down a fire that consumed nearly an acre of grass in the eastern section of the park near Broadway.

The blaze near Park Row Drive was extinguished in about 30 minutes by 85 firefighters, the L.A. Fire Department said on Twitter. No injuries were reported and no structures were damaged.

Today’s fire comes after two small blazes hit the park on Thursday and one week after a larger fire burned about five acres on a steep hill over the 5 Freeway.

All the fires have been relatively minor but they have broken out as dry brush has yet to be cleared away from many sections of the sprawling park, and countless dead and dying trees litter the landscape.

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8 comments

  1. Josef Bray-Ali

    During the race for the 1st Council District seat I repeatedly brought up the fire risk of all the dead foliage and the transient camps in the interior of the park. Many local residents in Elysian Park and Solano Canyon expressed worry about this situation. On top of this increased risk of a fire, the Echo Park fire station has been chronically under-staffed (with 4 deployable vehicles and only enough crew for one vehicle to go out). On top of that, Dodger Stadium often (1) cripples emergency responder access and (2) pulls that one deployable crew to the Stadium.

    Anecdotally, there has been an uptick in fatality fires in the area, but I was never able to obtain internal Fire Department reports to do an analysis.

    I hope that the city councilman’s office can get to work addressing the concerns brought to my attention by local residents. What I was told on campaign stops and canvassing should not be news to his staff nor to the councilman himself. It certainly wasn’t news to the fire fighters I spoke with.

    We’ve been lucky that a fire hasn’t broken out during a big event – but it is only a matter of time. I’m not trying to score political points by making this comment. This is a very real confluence of relatively minor problems that could lead to something bigger and much worse.

  2. Why hasn’t the dry brush been cleared? This problem was reported in the Los Angeles Times a year and a half ago.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-elysian-park-dieoff-20151221-story.html

    And what’s the status of the water system that has been in disrepair for so long?

    • Why the brush has not been cleared. Well, clearly the fire department is not out there clearing the brush like they should.

      • It would be the Department of Recreation and Parks that has the responsibility of clearing the brush and, as the LA Times article stated, they were not being funded to do the work. The Department also stonewalled the Times on whether any risk assessment had been done with regard to dead and dying trees and the degree of fire hazard they posed.

        Ultimately, city leadership is asleep at the wheel, including Councilman Gil Cedillo, whose district encompasses the park and who spends more of his effort on pleasing his Dodger organization benefactors and renaming streets, rather than saving the park from destruction by drought or fire.

    • Josef Bray-Ali

      Elysian Park is a city park, so I’m not sure if it is the Fire Department that should clear brush or the Parks Department, but there should be some clarification about that. The park does get pretty well taken care of in several well trafficked spots and in areas leading up to Dodger Stadium (for the most part). Portions of the park that are off the beaten path, more secluded, do not have the same maintenance dollars and staff time spent on them – these are where campsites are being set up, and where the majority of the brush isn’t irrigated (and where those costs are very high). Drought has seriously hurt the tree population.

      It’s not super glamorous, but it is worth taking care of – and not just for the locals living right next to the park. This park is an incredible resource for the whole city and potentially for the county, with some interesting local history (LA’s first Jewish cemetary?).

      There is a $12.5 million settlement the LADWP made after they closed a reservoir in the Elysian Park. That money has been in limbo as the current councilman has (apparently?) tried to wrangle it away from Elysian Park and spread it around the district. There is a Master Plan from the prior council administration (Ed Reyes) that isn’t the best, but is pretty dang good for LA. It has been sitting on the shelf for over a decade.

      Similar plans have been drawn up for nearby Debs Park. Similar situation. Similar problems. Both parks are exactly what we need as a community to stay healthy, happy, connected to nature, and connected to each other in public spaces.

      Maybe me commenting here will help nudge some press coverage or more public interest in Elysian Park (and since I brought it up, in Debs Park too). Maybe not. It’s really in the hands of the current councilman at this point, despite what his office may say, and it would be great if he’d figure out how to work with folks to address the issues here.

  3. Before the roads were repaved Recreation and Parks, every time it would rain, the roads would be closed to preserve the fragile surface. With such a threat to our park, how about closing the remote roads until the threat has passed?

  4. Thanks Fireworks Folks for your 4th of July Week Forest Fires! Glad your juvenile pleasures are so harmless…except for the forest fires, lost pets, endangering your neighbors houses….cept for that, Fireworks are Great !

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