Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wildfire news, August 23

Suspect arrested in another Griffith Park fire

In the past five weeks there have been at least eight suspected arson fires in Griffith Park, on the north edge of Los Angeles. Today there was another one but firefighters and law enforcement officers were ready. They had a number of undercover officers and arson investigators staking out the park and had firefighters staged nearby.

This has been a pattern for the last five weeks that on either Satuday, Sunday, or Monday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. that a suspicious fire would start in the park.

The suspect in today's fire, Gary Allen Lintz, was seen leaving the scene of the fire today. He fled on a bicycle and attempted to hide in plain site with a group of bicyclists, but he stood out from the others who were dressed in bike shorts, bike shirts, and helmets. He was caught, arrested, and is being held in lieu of $75,000 bail.

Lintz is on probation after being convicted of arson of a structure in 2007.

Firefighters, assisted by five helicopters, put out the fire and kept it to three acres, helped by the fact that the fire burned into a previous fire and ran out of fuel.

Curtis Jessen fatality

More information is now available about Curtis Jessen who died when he fell from a cliff on a fire in North Carolina on Thursday.
Jessen, of Black Mountain, was working upstream from Big Bradley Falls scouting the fire about 11 a.m. Thursday to make sure it was still contained. Fellow firefighters began to search for him after he failed to communicate for 15 minutes. They found him at the base of a rock cliff.

Jessen started working for the forest division of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2002. The work combined two of the things he loved most: being in outdoors and helping people, family members said Friday.

“We weren’t worried about him, because we knew that was his passion, and we knew that is what would make him happy,” said Lynn Horton, Jessen’s cousin.

Horton, who grew up with Jessen in North Catawba, said he “had the softest heart in the world” and loved being outside. He was an avid hunter and fisherman.

Jessen decided during high school he wanted to work with the Division of Forest Resources, and received a forestry degree from N.C. State University.

“He wouldn’t be satisfied if he had to be cooped up inside all the time,” Horton said. “He always wanted to be outdoors. That type of job — everybody that does that is aware of the danger at all times. His main focus was doing his job and helping others.”

For the last three years, Jessen rented a mobile home from Louise Reed and her husband, Michael. The Reeds lived across the road from Jessen, who shared his home with a cherished Chesapeake Bay retriever named Sandy.
From the Citizen Times

Gunbarrel fire update

The national forest increased the size of the area that is closed to the public in an effort to prevent another camper being almost entrapped like what happened near Jim Mountain on Thursday. The fire has burned 50,615 acres, at least 1,000 of which are outside the Maximum Manageable Area.

Gunbarrel Fire photo courtesy of Dewey Vanderhoff

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