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.