By Mary O’KEEFE
On Monday fire and law enforcement personnel joined family, community members and officials to dedicate the Angeles Forest Highway to two fallen firefighters who gave their lives while battling the Station
On the fourth day of the
Station Fire, Aug. 30, 2009, Fire Capt. Ted Hall, 47, and Fire Fighter Specialist Arnie Quinones, 34, both of Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to defend Camp 16 on Mt. Gleason Road. The fast moving fire pushed across the west end of the Camp, surrounding and burning the entire area. While they were in the process of finding a safe route away from the fire their vehicle went over the side
of Mt. Gleason Road and plunged 800 feet into a steep canyon. They did not survive the accident.
Members of the Montrose Search and Rescue team received the call of a vehicle over the side and that the victims were L.A. County firefighters. It was Sunday about 6 p.m.
“We were at the top of Briggs [Avenue] when we got the call of a car over the side,” said Fred Koegler, Montrose Search and Rescue member.
The team began driving up to the Camp. Fire lined the road up Angeles Forest Highway and at times crossed the road.
“All the trees on both sides were burning. In [one area] high tension lines had fallen across the road,” Koegler said.
The team had to make certain the wires were not live, then drove on. The team had the winch on their rescue vehicle that would be needed for personnel to go over the side of the road.
“They needed our winch, they couldn’t use rope – it would burn,” he added.
After driving through fire to get to the road they discovered that the Camp personnel had already gone over the side to tend to Hall and Quinones.
“The Camp guys had climbed back up the road and had to be treated for burned feet,” said rescue team captain Janet Henderson.
The trees had burned away in the area but the ground was still so hot it burned through the Camp personnel’s boots to their feet requiring medical attention, Henderson said.
Firefighters recovered the bodies after midnight.
“As they were brought up the firefighters draped an American flag over each of them,” Koegler said.
All stood at attention as the bodies were recovered and placed in a vehicle.
“It was very solemn,” Henderson said.
“This does not make up for your loss,” said L.A. Supervisor Michael Antonovich to the families of the fallen firefighters.
He added the highway is a tribute to Hall and Quinones and to the families they left behind. It is a sign that the community has not forgotten what they have sacrificed.
Dave Anderson, who spoke for the Hall family, said that the highway would act as a reminder to every one of what firefighters and law enforcement risk to make the community safe.
Ozzie Quinones, Arnie’s brother, thanked the fire department and law enforcement personnel for the “honor, respect and integrity” they had shown his family.
Speaking of his brother, Ozzie said, “He was the greatest hero, the greatest man that I ever knew.”
He thanked his community as well, “We were not born in Los Angeles County but L.A. County was born it us and that will never be forgotten.”
L.A. County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman thanked Antonovich who was instrumental in getting the highway dedicated to the two firefighters.
“This is the time in [L.A. County Fire] history that there has ever been a highway dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of a L.A. County firefighter,” Freeman said.
He added although it was a difficult fact to face the sacrifice of these two men would be remembered.
“We will not forget what they did and we will not forget their families.”