Around 10:30 am yesterday I was driving northeast on Highway 14. The San Gabriel Mountains were on my right. For the better part of a half hour I saw little other than charred hillsides and moon-scaped mountains. My view was a product of the recent Sand Fire, the largest in the San Gabriel Mountains since the Station Fire in 2009. The Sand Fire was, however, just one of many: 21 fires have scorched parts of the Angeles National Forest between the end of the Station Fire and the end of 2015. In 2016 alone, after years of drought, four large fires have burned within the forest’s boundaries (I’m including the recent Blue Cut Fire, which was entirely in the San Gabriel Mountains, but started in the San Bernardino National Forest portions). The peak of the fire season is yet to come.
- Approximate size of the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains (the Angeles National Forest includes other mountain ranges): 2,371.44 square kilometers (585,995.6 acres).
- Approximate size of burned area within the above boundary since, and including, the Station Fire: 975.86 square kilometers (241,140.3 acres).
- Percent burned: 40 percent.
I won’t go into discussion here about fire ecology, fire management, causes and other such issues. I lament the fact that these areas will never be the same within my lifetime. That is enough for now.
The map below shows the Angeles National Forest limits within the San Gabriel Mountains, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, designated wilderness, and fire perimeters from the Station Fire through the recent Blue Cut Fire.