L.A. County fire help residents

By Mary O’Keefe

Every time rain is predicted residents along Starfall Drive take a deep breath, examine all the sandbags they have in place and make sure their shovels are close by.   Thursday and Friday’s rainstorm brought more mud down the mountain and over what is left of the Khatochooni’s fence.  The mud that is almost like a thick gelatin texture slid down into their driveway, walk way and filled their pool.

Since the Station Fire Craig  Khatochooni and his wife Alice have continued a Sisyphus-type labor of building a wall of sandbags only to have them come crashing down with each rain.

The problem was Craig did most of the labor himself and could not build the wall strong or high enough before the next rain hit.  That is when Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Chief Ed Gandara and three crews showed up.

“We are reinforcing and raising the area with sandbags and hopefully it will strengthen it enough,” Gandara said.

Firefighters and hand crews were out helping neighborhoods throughout the mudflow/flood.  Grandara said it was a proactive way to help strengthen areas now to hopefully prevent serious problems and rescues of residents later.

“This is really amazing.  Look at all of them,” Alice said.

Like an army in yellow rain coats about 40 crew members and firefighters first cleared the area of the recent debris flow, then made a sandbag brocade line.  The reinforced fence was built as Craig, Alice and their neighbors watched in amazement.

“I feel kind of useless just standing here but I just need to keep out of their way.  They know what they are doing,” Craig said.

“This is what we do.  It is what we get paid to do,” Gandara said.

But to the residents of Starfall Drive it was much more than that.

“We have been trying to get help for so long and then 40 firefighters [and crew members] show up and help.  I want people to know what these guys, do everything they do,” Alice said.