Downed lines spark brush fire

High winds that scoured the area Friday night were blamed for a small brush fire that was quickly extinguished by firefighters.

Heavy gusts first downed a tree, which in turn knocked over a secondary power line at 5212 Jessen Drive, according to Stephanie English, community service representative for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The live wires ignited some dry brush on the hillside behind the home.

English said that after Fire Station 19 received a call at 7:08 p.m., eight fire engines, three helicopters and Forest Service crews were deployed to the fire, which was stopped after burning about a quarter of an acre.

English said that downed power lines can be dangerous in areas with dry brush.

“It happens occasionally and throughout the county it’s not horribly unusual, [but] it doesn’t happen frequently,” she said.

Vanessa McGrady, a spokesperson for Southern California Edison, said that power was restored to the home at 2:20 a.m. Saturday.

English said that the fire was an example of why citizens in a high-risk area like La Cañada should be prepared in the case of a fire.

“The perception is because the forest around them is burned away, the area is safer, and to some extent that is true,” she said. “But because of the canopy in La Cañada, because of the underbrush in La Cañada, if something happens on accident on a windy day … that’s a difficult area to be in, and people need to be prepared to get out quickly.”

Councilwoman Laura Olhasso, whose Solliden Lane home is near the site of the fire, said she was happy to see the thorough response from emergency personnel.

“I was home [at the time of the blaze], there were more vehicles than I believed possible in this city,” Olhasso said. “It was actually quite gratifying to see all these fire engines and Forest Service vehicles and such.

“I couldn’t see flames from my house, but I could certainly smell the smoke; it was scary in that the wind was blowing and there were a lot of people,” she said. “But it was put down so quickly that your mind was put to ease.”

The fire was the second power-equipment malfunction in the city within four days, as an Edison transformer began smoking on Alta Canyada Road at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 23, according to English.

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