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The Fires of August 2009

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These pictures were taken just days after the fires began. Police escort was needed to enter our bee sites as the area was nothing but charred trees and sliding hillside - it was also cordoned off as a crime scene as two fire fighters were killed.

There are four sets of pictures -

The Lancaster/Palmdale skies which were miles away from the fire's origin taken 8-29-31

Fire cloud 1 - Aug. 29, 2009 Fire cloud 2 - Aug. 29, 2009. Fire cloud 3 - Aug. 29, 2009 Fire cloud 4 - Aug. 29, 2009 Lancaster Palmdale desert - Aug 31, 2009

and those taken 9-04 when we were finally allowed access to the area.

We entered up Angeles Crest from the LaCanada/Flintridge area which itself was hard hit as the fires could be seen fingering their way down the mountain sides to the communities. The fire then extended over to Acton by the Freeway 14 - then to the east by way of Monrovia, Arcadia, to San Bernardino. The lack of strong winds was exceptional luck as the heat and flow were more manageable.

Our bee sites at both CC Ridge and The Mesa stood - no bee loss. At CC Ridge one could see water splatter on the site itself having come from above - the area surrounding the site was totally charred. What was once lush heavy growth was simply erased. The Cactus border that Klaus Koepfli, beekeeper, had planted so many years ago served as a barricade against the fire - the plant itself got 'singed' but the flames did not enter the site.

CCRidge - eastward / Sept. 4, 2009 CCRidge - looking outward / Sept. 4, 2009 CCRidge / Sept. 4, 2009 CCRidge - Klaus / Sept. 4, 2009 CCRidge - southward / Sept. 4, 2009 CCRidge - cactus barrier / Sept. 4, 2009
CCRidge - downward / Sept. 4, 2009 CCRidge - intact / Sept. 4, 2009 CCRidge - looking cityside / Sept. 4, 2009 CCRidge - looking northwest / Sept. 4, 2009 CCRidge - looking southwest / Sept. 4, 2009 CCRidge - looking westward / Sept. 4, 2009

The Mesa - TIPI - Bee Flat - was sparred as well while the entire area around simply disappeared into flames and ash. Again, the fact that the sites themselves are closely monitored for growth and the area around is always removed thus serving as a buffer zone clearly shows.

barren roadside / Sept. 4, 2009 dead roadside / Sept. 4, 2009 On way to Mesa / Sept. 4, 2009 Mesabound / Sept. 4, 2009 Mesa ride / Sept. 4, 2009 Crest to Mesa / Sept. 4, 2009
Crest molten / Sept. 4, 2009 Crest / Sept. 4, 2009 Crest - Mesa / Sept. 4, 2009 Mesa - entering site area / Sept. 4, 2009 Mesa - coming onto site area / Sept. 4, 2009 Mesa - tipi  / Sept. 4, 2009
Mesa - hourhound / Sept. 4, 2009 Mesa - westward / Sept. 4, 2009 Looking from Mesa to road / Sept. 4, 2009

These few pictures come from the TIPI MISTRESS herself( GWEN SIVERTSEN) as she and David watched the flames approaching... This is private property owned by the Sivertsons.

Burn beehives Fire north of tipi / low left corner is road to tipi

Brown Mountain - part of the mountain itself showed signs of green areas tucked deep into pocketed regions while the overall was totally seared. The roadway leading to the site itself had not been cleared prior and in some places almost proved impassable but with a little hard work - shoveling and removing the branches/trees it was passable. The actual site itself had been ground torched completely - Only the four or five hives that remained had had closed bottoms; we had experimented with grated open bottoms as a means of cutting down on the mite and other infestation to the bee; but those with open bottoms were completely incinerated offering a chimney effect to the searing flames. Nothing around Brown Mountain exists - not a plant or shrub.

Brown Mountain - burn Truck view - Brown Mountain roadway Truck view - Brown Mountain road Brown Mountain - once lush grove Brown Mountain - more roadslides Brown Mountain - clearing the road to the site
Brown Mountain - view from truck window Brown Mountain - from Crest Brown Mountain - naked road Brown Mountain - view from truck window 2 Brown Mountain - walking the site
Brown Mountain - cactus death Brown Mountain - burn as far as the eye can see Brown Mountain - looking out from site Brown Mountain - site
Brown Mountain - hive survivors Brown Mountain - left over tree stump Brown Mountain - lifeless Brown Mountain - burned plastic insulation

We went up four times to The Mesa and CC Ridge - the first time to survey the situation, again with escort police, and then to remove the 'living hives' - then again to remove all dead-outs and dismantle the sites completely. Brown Mountain was the last to get to as the roads had been reported to be impassable.

Brown Mountain - Klaus clearing the road to the site

On our first several visits we saw a multitude of turkey vultures circling in search of bodies regular birds had begun to come back and looked very odd sitting on scorched naked limbs; then the crows and ravens came in search of seeds which they gathered and began to 'hide' in the ground. A rabbit and a squirrel were spotted and by the last visit, sprigs of green had begun to surface - no rain but the seed had been germinated and life was determined to resurface.

The air was acrid - eyes itched, lips tasted like char, nose burned and throat became swollen - the air was filled with BURN - it was truly a remarkable landscape that was painful to BE in. The mountains looked like elephant hide, tanned and rough with little pickings of dark hair (these being the tree remnants) - the ground reminded one of dusted frost and wintered trees but it was, in fact, ash and dead trees. If a gentle rain comes first to 'seed' the ground and then is followed by a heavy rain there will be a plethora of flowers, bushes and all manner of wildlife - if it pours heavily first then the mountain will simply wash away to the low lands. I prefer to think lush -

Brown Mountain - hope

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