A Most Laborious Labor Day
When the La Tuna Fire first broke in the early afternoon on Friday, I really didn’t give it much thought. It isn’t uncommon for small fires to be quickly snuffed out. However, I should have remembered the Station Fire that happened exactly eight years ago and the story of it that was the bottom cover of last week’s paper.
Like the La Tuna Fire, many thought the Station Fire would be rapidly extinguished; however, it quickly became a monster of a blaze, devouring most of everything that it came into contact with. Firefighting personnel from around the southland – eventually numbering in excess of 1,000 – could be seen on local hillsides fighting the fire. As most know, the 210 Freeway was affected, with traffic being diverted onto local streets.
On Saturday morning, I got out of bed, slipped on a dress, tied my hair back and, wearing no makeup (side note – not my best look), made my way to CV Weekly. For the next 10 or so hours, I collected information that was released from the LA Fire Dept. (the lead agency on the fire), the City of Glendale and from reporters Charly Shelton and even Mary O’Keefe, who was out of town. I pushed that out via our e-blast, Twitter, website and Facebook – I used every resource I had available to get the information out to our readers and local residents. When I made my way home, I hopped onto the computer there to monitor the progress being made and was able to tell our followers early on of the fire at the Montessori school on Pennsylvania and the evacuation of the residents of Mountview on Honolulu.
On Sunday night, Steve and I headed over to CV Park, which had been set up as a command center, where personnel – both law enforcement and firefighters – could get food, water and other supplies while taking a break from the La Tuna Fire.
Steve had already been working with the organizers over at CV Park to shuttle ice back and forth and was well-acquainted with the volume of the donated goods. I wasn’t, though.
Walking into the courtyard at CV Park was an amazing experience. Pop-ups had been set up, food and ice and water was readily accessible. During the day, local Boy Scouts would greet the fighters when they arrived, offering them cold towels. Volunteers would applaud the personnel when they pulled up in their rigs to show their appreciation for the hard work they were doing. Stepping into the community center, I was overwhelmed with the amount of goods that had all been donated. Baked goods, sandwiches, pasta, water – lots of water – were all at the ready, all donated by our neighbors.
I had a chance to talk with the main lady there, Margo Gonzales, who had gotten the job of chief organizer by default. She explained that she had come to the park with some goods to donate and had some time to lend a hand. She explained that two ladies were outside the courtyard area and had set up two tables on which supplies were placed. Margo realized quickly that this wasn’t going to work and contacted Parks & Rec to see if the center could stay open.
She went out to talk to the ladies and, as she said, “They pulled a Houdini! Poof! They were gone!”
So Margo, her husband Ron and daughter Marisa started organizing the rapidly arriving donations. Thankfully, people also came to help and, before anyone knew what was happening, a finely-tuned machine had been put in place.
I marveled what an amazing community we have and Margo, who has lived in the Crescenta Valley for about 20 years, couldn’t agree more.
“This is what our community is all about,” she said.
To Margo, her family and all the people who donated to the community center at CV Park as well as other spots around town – thank you for spending your Labor Day weekend making sure others were taken care of. You embody the values of the Crescenta Valley.