The Battle For Hollydale Mobilehome Estates 11/15/08

The Hollydale Mobilehome Estates community was spared destruction by fast moving flames in Carbon Canyon last night. At approximately 2200 hours CBS2 helicopter pilot/reporter Larry Welk showed an overhead shot of a massive flame front racing uphill towards the mobile home park (map below).

Welk, a veteran fire reporter prepped viewers for a potentially tragic meeting of fire and private property.

Against swirling winds Welk held the overhead shot for more than 1/2 hour as flames leaped towards their target. As the fire approached the 50 home park the wind ceased as if on cue. As the first of the now slower flames came within range firefighters braced for the attack training straight streams of water at the approaching flame wall.

Blunting the fire head firefighters forced the fire to the northwest flank of the neighborhood. Firefighters armed with water guarded homes on the perimeter and expertly herded the fire out and away from the park.

This was a textbook structure protection maneuver. CalFire and the USFS should ask for the film from CBS2 and use it in training. Welk painted an accurate picture, this was a David vs Goliath moment, the newsroom anchors saw it that way too. Had the wind not let up this may have had a different ending. As it was no homes burned and no firefighters were injured.

Something that Welk missed and considering the darkness I cannot confirm. When the flames were about 80 yards from the first home what looked like a spot fire erupted between the main fire and the homes. The “spot” was immediately sucked into the main flame front and had the effect of halting the pace. I thought at the time this might have been a flare thrown from a firefighter and I believe now it was. That is what I would have done.

This backfire is what knocked Goliath to one knee.

The LA Times wrote about it. I watched it live and it rated 5 star on the drama-meter.

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  • Jody Takes Pictures says:

    Mike, this post is several months late, but I was one of the few photographers in the Hollydale Mobile Home Park when they took their stand against the fire. If you or anyone is interested in seeing any of the images from that night, click this link to the page on my website. The Hollydale images start with #XJG2935 and continue to the bottom of the page.

    As I was packing my gear in the back of my truck, I felt like I'd just put it away after last season. It seems like fire season never ends anymore, so I hope everyone maintains the defensible space and has an evacuation plan in place.


  • BCFD36 says:

    Thanks,It would be very educational to see the fire get sucked in like that. D. ScruggsBoulder Creek Fire

  • Mike says:

    Cap, I plan to ask CBS2 LA if they can put together a video of the event for non profit distribution.If I have any success I’ll seek you out.I know where you are. I used to work above you at Ben Lomond Youth Conservation Camp.

  • Anonymous says:

    Can you find a link to the video you watched? Something like that would be nice to show my guys.D. ScruggsBoulder Creek Fire

  • Anonymous says:

    I live in Hollydale, and have been in San Diego for a week. I watched as the fire progressed Saturday. I knew as soon as I found out where it started that it was going to find its way to Hollydale. I went to bed thinking there was no way that our homes would be saved. I can’t even find the words to properly thank the firefighters who saved our homes and do this time and time again. I am at a loss for words, but wish I could find the right thing to say.

  • Mike says:

    Isabelle, an epic moment in television history. Nothing short of that.Kate, you got your fill of such drama all summer long!

  • Isabelle says:

    My brother lives in Hollydale and I watched with horror as the tidal wave of fire approached the mobile homes Saturday evening into Sunday morning. We thought it would take a miracle to stop the flames from destroying the mobile home park. Thank you to the miracle of the firefighters that saved my brother’s and so many other’s homes. God Bless you all. Isabelle

  • bigsurkate says:

    Mike, this is a nightmare. So many So Cal Fires!I am on a cruise to Mexico and can see the smoke down here!I’ll have to see how I get home when I dock on Thursday. I’ll be checking blogs once a day. Internet really expensive on board.