Crisis Getting a Little Close for Comfort

Jonathan Bernstein crisis communications, crisis management, crisis public relations

This fire is burning just a couple of miles from our home, making things a little warm for this here crisis manager. Fortunately the wind is not blowing our way, but we just got word that the fire may have jumped to another, closer ridge and a family we know has asked if they can stay at our house, as they’ve been told they are likely to have to evacuate. Of course we said yes.

I’ve tried to be the good news hound and sent an update “from the scene” to an LA Times reporter covering the story. Guess I’d better go read more of the articles at my business website, huh?


UPDATE: Just updated the link for this story, darn fire is getting uncomfortably close, evacuations ordered just 1/2 mile “uphill” from us.

UPDATE 4-27-08 2:30 pm pst from City of Sierra Madre:

Fire Update, Sunday, 2:30 pm – Schools Closed, Evacuations Remain in Place
Sunday, April 27, 2008, Update 2:30 PM
All Sierra Madre public and private schools have been cancelled for Monday, April 27, 2008.

Evacuations are to remain in place through Monday, April 27, 2008 at 6:00 a.m. provided that the fire conditions remain steady. All residents are still strongly urged to leave their homes if they are in the mandatory evacuation area.

Background – new information in boldThe Santa Anita Fire began on Saturday, April 26th has currently burned under 400 acres of wildland urban interface. The only structure damaged at this time is a small out building off of Lotus Lane.

Two firefighters have been injured, one was stung by a bee yesterday afternoon; the other strained his knee working in the steep terrain.

The fire is 5% contained and we are looking at 4-5 days for full containment.

Approximately 1000 people have been evacuated from Oak Crest Drive across Carter Avenue to East Mira Monte Avenue, continuing down Mountain Trail Avenue, across Grandview Avenue to Santa Anita Avenue.

The American Red Cross has opened a shelter at the Hart Park House, 222 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. The number for the American Red Cross is 626-799-0841 x270.

The Sierra Madre City Council held an emergency meeting at 12:10 a.m. on Sunday, April 27th to declare the City in a state of emergency.

Air support began again Sunday morning at approximately 6:30 am. We anticipate having 2 helicopters, 3 air tankers, and over 400 firefighters on the ground. There are over 500 logistics and operations people

The difficulty of this fire is the terrain which is steep and difficult to access. Additionally, some of these areas have not burned in over 40 years. So far, the weather has been on our side, and although there will still be intense heat today, we expect little wind and rising humidity.
A wedding party of approximately 50 people was separated 3 ½ miles from the Chantry Flats Ranger Station. The party had driven up Saturday night to camp and celebrate the nuptials. Upon receiving word that the party was still in the mountains, Sierra Madre Search and Rescue lead the evacuation operation coordinating with LA County Sheriffs. It took five helicopter trips to take the party back to their cars at the Ranger Station where Los Angeles County Sheriffs escorted everyone back down the mountain safely. There were no reported injuries during this operation.

We are asking residents and visitors to stay off the streets, keep areas clear for fire department access and to stay attentive. Immediate updates can be found on and SMTV3, channel 3 on Time Warner.

For more information or media updates, please call 626-355-7135. The next media briefing is schedule for 6:00 pm (1800 hours) at the east side of Sierra Vista Park, 611 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. Sierra Madre.