Eagle Rock -- Approaching the interchange at the 134 to the North 2 freeway was once an exhilarating journey from any direction. But today, that drive is sad and depressing.
Scorched pine trees (some with no needles at all), singed palms, tangled heaps of melted cacti and an eerie gray ash covers the denuded hillside and the once-vegetated freeway interchange pockets. White ash meteorite-like impacts reveal where high heat rapidly consumed branches, limbs and leaves of buckwheat, agave and other living breathing beings.
No one died in the late August fire that decimated 45 acres in Eagle Rock and neighboring Glendale. But there was plenty of damage to the landscape.
There should be a single word (maybe in German?) for “emotional pain after fire destroys a shared landscape seen and enjoyed daily.”
Hiking up and around the barren hillside, some locals are seeing new growth emerging from the wreckage, hoping that Mother Nature, which is often encouraged by fire, will reclaim the land.
Gaia none withstanding, Caltrans is in the initial stages of dealing with this fiery aftermath.
According to spokesperson Jeremiah Teves, Caltrans has expedited processes to target funds so contractors can be hired to assess the landscape safety and make recommendations on plants to remove and/or cut back, where to place erosion barriers, etc.
Freeway drains (located often on shoulders and medians) will be examined and cleared of potential clogging debris as well as surveying guard rails for any damage.
(Motorists seeing loose soil, litter clogging drains or other potential freeway problems are encouraged to submit a service request to Caltrans at csr.dot.ca.gov.)
In light of the coming rainy season, the large sloping hill is particularly of concern – no one wants a replay of the monstrous 2010 Pomona mudslide near the interchange of the 57 and 10 Freeways that blocked traffic for weeks.
Caltrans’ goal of rehabbing the area – which could mean possible replanting – is to have it done before the end of the year.
We contacted the City of Glendale about their landscape restoration efforts but did not hear back from a city spokeswoman.
Yes, things will grow again here, after sunshine and good rains, the hillside will resiliently rise from the ashes. Insects, animals and birds will repopulate and find food, homes and protection here. Drive by the 210 near the La Tuna Canyon Fire of 2017 or the 405 Getty Fire – freeway plant life is staging a comeback, slow but steady.
There will be a time to celebrate the tenacity of nature, but in the meantime, commuters will be faced for months with this bleak sorrowful sight and the knowledge of the completely senseless way it materialized.