FIRE! near the Museum

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather advisory for the Los Angeles area for today and tomorrow

triple-digit temperatures in some areas have heightened fire danger in mountainous areas.

They weren’t kidding. I don’t remember it ever being this hot at the Museum. I heard on the radio that L.A. experienced a a record-breaking 100 degrees F today, so it wasn’t a surprise when a fire started in a canyon across the street from the Museum, around 3:30 pm this afternoon.

Though not in the direct line of the fire the Museum implemented a voluntary evacuation around 4:20 pm.

Brush fires spread fast. The two acre fire quickly spread to twelve acres when we drove by at 4:45 pm, and according to an article in the Long Beach Telegram posted at 8:05 p.m, it had burned about 70 acres, but no homes were in danger.

Flames and smoke on the hillside. Photo credit Eric

When we were evacuated, the emergency strobe lights flashed on in the gallery where I was working and the visitors were instructed to immediately head to the exits and leave the Museum. Although they left the galleries, most of the people didn’t leave the building, they stopped at my Satellite Store to shop.

“Sorry we can’t sell anything. As you heard on the loudspeakers we’ve all been instructed to leave,” my co-workers and I told the visitors.

“Just this one book/one cup/one postcard..,” about half a dozen people told us.

“Everyone has to evacuate the building. I can’t sell anything,” I said but they didn’t move from their places in the line. “The store is closed. There’s a fire across the street,” I said as I emptied my cash register.

A few people left, but there were still some stubborn shoppers. My co-worker said, “You must leave. There’s a fire. We are evacuating the museum…”and we carried on taking the cash out of the two registers.

That’s when a Museum volunteer came right up to us, “Please be kind and sell the catalog to this French man,” she said.

Good lord!


The fire started at the worst time for the Friday afternoon commute. The following photos were taken by my carpool buddy Eric with his cellphone as we slowly made our way past the fire on our way home…

Line of fire trucks and thick smoke pouring down the hill – Photo credit Eric

Smoke just after a helicopter dropped it’s water.

Smoke not fog.

Life in Los Angeles is never dull.


Update on Monday: I’m adding a couple of the photos my co-worker Christina Delgado took of the fire on her cellphone. They show how close the fire was to the museum and the houses on the hill.

Taken from the courtyard of the Museum – the thick cloud of smoke was very close to us and the houses on the hill. Photo credit: Christina Delgado

You can see the flames on the hillside

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We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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59 Responses to FIRE! near the Museum

  1. Linda Shapiro says:

    There is nothing more powerful than nature. What amazing pictures and captions. I cannot believe that it’s so difficult to get rid of stubborn shoppers. Thanks for sharing Eric’s photos and experiences.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello Linda,
      You cannot believe the power of nature until you live in a place like this where we live with brush fires, earthquakes, mudslides…

      It’s unbelievable that people would carry on shopping after a fire-alarm.

      There are many plus’s to carpooling. Taking photos is just one.

  2. sonali says:

    Oh! strange to hear about the sudden fire during the middle of the day. It creates tension & chaos until someone assures that there’s no much harm to the homes & the people. The shopaholics are not at all afraid of the tragedy! that’s unbelievable. People would just run for their life! Its good you shared about the incident.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello Sonali,
      Thank you for popping in and leaving a comment.

      Do you have brush fires in your part of the world? So many homes are usually burned in the fires that it was a big relief to know they weren’t in any danger in this fire.

      It is truly unbelievable that people would carry on shopping after a fire-alarm goes off. I would never have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.

  3. Wow .. glad you’re safe, Rosie. LA always has such dramatic weather!!
    I’m always in awe of those brush fires because they don’t look particularly dangerous, but they sure can spread fast and cause SO much damage!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Betty,
      As you already understand brush fires spreads really fast, and when it’s so hot and so dry it’s especially dangerous. Driving home I saw so many homes on the hillside that seemed right in the direct line of the fire. I’m so relieved their homes were all saved. What helped save the homes was there was no wind.

  4. Nandini says:

    Oh this is really sad. Forest fires are very dangerous. Nature is indeed very powerful.

    Hmmm you take care. 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Nandini,
      It’s really dry – we haven’t had rain for a long time – and when you combine the triple digit temperatures with the dry brush a fire can spread really fast.

      In the eleven years I’ve worked at the museum this is the third time there’s been a brush fire on a nearby canyon.

  5. Oh my! These are sobering pictures. This was our September about a year ago. Will you have to wear masks with the air polluted with smoke?
    You were very patient with those shoppers and your fellow volunteer.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Georgette,
      This is the beginning of fire season here. I hope this is the worst of the fires. We can’t smell the smoke at home.

      I think I’m just going to say “no comment” re the volunteer. She had come over just five minutes earlier to ask about the status of the fire (we knew about it before it was announced to the public)…

  6. sybil says:

    Glad it’s only a small fire and no homes were lost.

    I could not handle that heat. We’ve had a hotter than usual summer here. Lower fall-ish weather is moving in with cool nights and pleasant days. THIS is my kind of weather.

    Stay safe.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Sybil,
      I guess one would describe a 70 acre fire with no casualties as a small fire.

      If you like your cool Nova Scotia climate you certainly wouldn’t be happy here. September is usually our hottest month.

      This is the third time I’ve been evacuated from the museum because of a fire on a nearby canyon.

  7. shoreacres says:

    What you were dealing with, I suspect, isn’t so very different from what happens here when a hurricane or tropical storm warning is issued and tourists decide it’s a great time for a party. Folks who don’t have a clue about the nature of fires or hurricanes just don’t respond with the same alacrity as people who’ve had some experience.

    Granted, there are people who will decide to ride out a hurricane, for an assortment of reasons. Some of them have lived with storms all their life and know what they’re dealing with. They usually fare pretty well, particularly if they’re not in an area where surge is an issue. But fire? That’s a different animal. It’s fast, and unpredictable. I would have been the first one out of your museum!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Linda,
      I’m with you. I’ve noticed that any emergency at the museum (this is the third time we’ve been evacuated since I’ve worked there) that I’m one of the first ones out. I cannot imagine how important that souvenir can be, that a fire across the road doesn’t get people moving. By the looks on their faces I’m sure they’re going to go home and tell their friends and families about the awful women at the museum who wouldn’t serve them!

      When I left the gallery and walked across the courtyard to get to my car, I was shocked to see how many people were standing at the side taking photos of the huge flames rising in the air …

  8. Peter Robin says:

    Wow thats amazing, good pictures! thank God that your OK cousin Rosie xx

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your concern. We were lucky that they kept the freeway open so we could get home in under an hour, otherwise driving across town would’ve taken us at least two hours.

      I’ll tell my carpool buddy that you liked his pictures. I didn’t have my camera and anyway I couldn’t take pictures because I was driving.

      It was amazing to drive past the fire and see how accurately the helicopters were able to drop water on the huge flames shooting in the air.

  9. wow; this has been a brutal year for madre tierra; i hope that your area gets some relief soon. keep smiling even if those other people don’t understand! z

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello zee,
      I saw a comment you left on Linda’s blog that you’re recovering from bronchitis. So sorry, I hope you get better soon. Thank you for visiting me when you aren’t feeling well.

      The National Weather Service says that the heat wave will break tomorrow. I hope so….

      • Thanks amiga. This was a perennial problem when I lived in the USA; the coughing began in November and lasted until March. When I moved to Tropical America, the symptoms evaporated.
        I spent a week in Guayaquil before I became ill, and I suspect that was the trigger.
        I understand why people who cough are lean! Coughing is exhausting! Z

      • dearrosie says:

        Interesting that your coughing went away when you left the damp US climate and moved to tropical America. Where is Guayaquil? Is it in the highlands?
        Never thought of it, but you’re right that people who cough are lean.

  10. Kathy says:

    I am so glad that everyone is safe. Amazing that people didn’t want to stop shopping even in a fire evacuation. Crazy! When our Chris was home recently we heard about a fire in the national forest north of LA where he has hiked. Think that must have abated by now. We’re counting the weeks until our San Diego wedding; 2 1/2 now!

    • dearrosie says:

      Kathy I’m also so glad that the firemen were able to bring the fire under control so quickly with no loss of life.

      I’ve been behind my cash register when we’ve had a few earthquakes. It’s astonishing to watch the shoppers – they’ll stop momentarily, but carry on shopping as if nothing had happened.

      Unfortunately there are too many fires every year, not sure which national forest fire your son Chris hiked. It’s awful to go hiking after a fire has swept through an area.

      Did you manage to buy an outfit for the wedding?

  11. Val says:

    Glad you’re safe. Totally crazy that people still want to shop during a fire evacuation, don’t they realise that there’s potential danger to them in staying?

    I’ve never heard of a strobe alarm lights. I avoid strobes like the plague as they set of my migraines as they do to many people. Strobes can also trigger seizures in people with epilepsy (not me, thankfully). I’d have thought that a strobe would the one of the worst things to use as an alarm signal.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Val,
      From your reaction to the use of “strobe” lights I think I must’ve used the wrong word for the emergency lights. I don’t know what they’re called. I can’t imagine something being installed in a public building that would cause seizures! The lights in the museum are very bright and flash on and off quickly… I’ll check what they’re called and get back to you.

      I’ll never be able to understand people. Most of the tourists were really angry at us cashiers when we told them to stop shopping and that they really had to leave. Perhaps they thought Los Angeles =Hollywood so they were just watching a movie of a fire?

      • Val says:

        The flicker of fluorescent tubes does it too, sometimes. But what you’re talking about does sound like some sort of strobe. As for not being able to imagine something being installed in a public building that would cause seizures, here in the UK, I’ve seen this sort of thing many times. Including a flickering light above a cashier in a take away cafe who was getting quite ill sitting under it – the management would do nothing. Go figure.

      • dearrosie says:

        I asked Mr F and from the way I described them he thought they are called “strobe” lights. They’re just emergency lights and flick on and off two or three times very quickly.

        What a horrible job for that poor cashier. I can’t imagine how anyone would make one of their employees sit under a flashing light all day. I’d also get ill if I had to work under those conditions.

  12. David Koff says:

    well, i had an off friday but the fire was no less dramatic from the mid-wilshire area and i snapped a quick shot from across town on san vicente blvd looking northwest:

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello David,
      Lucky you to be off work yesterday so you didn’t have to cope with the awful drive home.

      When you took the photo (thanks for the link) did you know that the fire was so close to the Museum?

  13. souldipper says:

    Glad you left, got home safely and had a weekend in front of you! People! What are you thinking? Be invincible with your own life if you want, but respect the lives of others!

    Like your Nova Scotian reader, I could not manage 100 F heat. I don’t really know how people can bear it – though I realize air conditioning is a staple. Give me natural fresh cool air – I am Canadian through and through I guess. Well, except in winter after it’s rained for two months straight. Hawaii, Mexico and Cuba look really good.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Amy,
      When I got to work yesterday it was very sobering to see the entire hillside burned to an empty moonscape….

      I added two more photos of the fire that one of my co-workers took. They give a better perspective of how close it was to us. Come back and take a look.

      During your long winters we’ve had many Canadian visitors popping over for a bit of what you described as Hawaii-Mexico-Cuba and a few of them are like you and Sybil from Nova Scotia – on a January day where I feel chilly, they’re sitting sweating in the shade 🙂

  14. munchow says:

    I am sorry, but I had to laugh about your co-worker. No need to add a comment I think.

    Even if the museum weren’t in the direct line of fire – and no homes were in danger, it must be unsettling to watch a fire like that. Maybe you can send some of that dry heat over to me – I am drowning in rain for the time being…

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello Otto,
      I added two more photos of the fire that one of my co-workers took. They give a better perspective of how close it was to the Musuem. Come back and take a look.

      Sorry to hear its so wet over there in Norway. We’ve still got another week of heat over here – but thankfully not triple digits – just in the 90’s.

      When I got to work yesterday it was very sobering to see the entire hillside burned to an empty moonscape….There was a fire on the other side of the museum on Saturday – in the Sullivan Canyon area where Mr F and I have taken many hikes. I don’t know how many acres burned there but the good news is no homes were damaged.

      I’m glad to know you laughed at my co-worker. It’s such a shame I wasn’t able to take photos of the tourists angry faces when we told them to get out without shopping. The visitors were told to leave the museum but not told “why” because one doesn’t want to cause panic by saying FIRE! but even when we told them “You’ve got to leave there’s a fire they carried on shopping…

  15. That is a scary event. Fires can turn a once lush vegetation or a sturdy building into ashes within hours. I’m amazed by the persistence of the museum shoppers. They don’t sound alarmed at all. I’m glad you and your co-workers are all safe.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi IT,
      As you well understand it doesn’t take long for a fire to spread on a hot dry hillside.

      I added two more photos of the fire that one of my co-workers took. They give a better perspective of how close it was to the Musuem. Come back and take a look.

  16. I didn’t even see photos on the television, so this was very informative just to see how big it was. I am so glad that they got it under control. Between fires and the upcoming closing of the 405 you have a lot to navigate just getting to work this month! oxo

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Debra
      I added two more photos of the fire that one of my co-workers took. They give a better perspective of how close it was to the Museum. Come back and take a look.

      When I got to work yesterday it was very sobering to see most of the hillside across from the Museum burned to an empty moonscape…Did you know that there was a fire on the other side of the museum on Saturday – in the Sullivan Canyon area? I don’t know how many acres burned there but the good news is no homes were damaged.

      Since they started the work on the 405 two years ago every single day’s commute has been a nightmare, and if we’re late for work we don’t get excused because there’s only one lane open…

  17. The few Californians I know are scarily blasé about fires. Denial perhaps. I’m with you. Someone yells fire and I’m outta there. Pronto. The heck with the Frenchman who wants the catalog. Zut Alors!

    Glad you are safe. So too the museum. Has the museum ever been in fire jeopardy?

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi EOS,
      I believe the Museum keeps a large stockpile of water in case of fire, but it’s never been in direct fire danger.

      There have been a few fires on canyons around the Museum since I’ve worked there so I’ve been in this kind of situation a few times now – and I’m like you I don’t stick around for souvenirs. I get out of there immediately

  18. souldipper says:

    I know that fires do have redeeming features (new growth, seed rejuvenation, etc), but the fear it puts into people and critters is heartbreaking.

    • dearrosie says:

      I’m with you Amy. While I know there are redeeming features to having a fire go through an area, when I see all the homes on those hillsides, and think of all the wildlife living in the brush, I also can’t think, hooray a fire!

  19. And now a fire!!
    I must say your life has been full of action lately; some good, this not so good. Glad to hear that you & your colleagues made it out in good time, notwithstanding the shoppers (!!).

    • dearrosie says:

      Good morning AIT
      Hey, I’m finally spelling your name correctly. Nice to see you here 🙂

      You’re quite right I’ve had a very exciting year. One advantage to working in a museum are all those valuable paintings on the walls. The fire department are going to make sure the fire doesn’t reach the building.

  20. theonlycin says:

    How very scary, I’ve experienced fires like that in Cape Town. I had to chuckle at the persistent shoppers 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Howzit Cin,
      Lovely to see you back here. I didn’t realize that Cape Town had fires like this. Very scary isn’t it?

      One of my co-workers told me he was working in a large book store when there was an earthquake and even after they were told to evacuate immediately, the people wanted to carry on shopping.

  21. Robin says:

    Wow. That’s frightening! I can’t believe people were still wanting to shop after being instructed to evacuate. That’s the thing about humans. They never cease to amaze me.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Robin,
      As far as I’m concerned a fire is very frightening and very dangerous, so I couldn’t understand why the people weren’t taking the evacuation seriously. But I guess after working in the job for eleven years nothing surprises me anymore…

  22. Oh Rosie, that is so scary to be so close to a fire. And I don’t think I’ve ever experienced 100 degree heat – yikes! It’s amazing how stubborn some people can be, putting their material desires ahead of safety. The pictures your co-workers got are definitely worth a thousand words.

    • dearrosie says:

      ((hangs head in shame))) because she just discovered this comment…
      100 degree heat feels like you’ve left the oven door open.

      You knew the shoppers were crazy not to leave immediately, but as you say, it was only after you saw the pictures which show you how close the fire was to the museum and the houses on the hills that you realized how crazy those shoppers were.

  23. eof737 says:

    Sad that some were not listening to your Clara instructions to leave the museum… People are unbelievable..

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