Friday, September 14, 2012

Sepulveda Pass fire: Super Scoopers attack 40-acre blaze


Two Super Scooper aircraft capable of dumping 1,600 gallons of water at a time made drops on a fast-moving 40-acre fire east of the Sepulveda Pass, quickly snuffing out flames.

By 5:50 p.m. they had dropped about 20,000 gallons of water on the fire.

More than 100 firefighters were battling the blaze, which was moving from the base of the 405 Freeway up a mountain toward Moraga Drive, where homes are located on a cul-de-sac in the hills of Bel-Air, said Capt. Jamie Moore.

PHOTOS: Fire in Sepulveda Pass threatens homes, Getty Center

Skimming water from the Pacific Ocean, the firefighting aircraft, which are leased from Canada, can grab the massive loads of water in just 12 seconds and fly for three hours without refueling. The bright yellow-and-red planes can alight on land or water.

This is the 19th year Los Angeles County has leased the water-dropping planes, which cost $2.75 million for three months.

This year’s models come from a fire department in Quebec. The Bombardier CL-415s will be in the county through November. They are based at Van Nuys Airport and augment the county’s fleet of 10 helicopters.

At this stage of the fire, authorities said, there is no evidence of arson and the cause remains undetermined. The Getty Center, situated south of the fire, closed early, and synagogue leaders removed eight Torahs from Leo Baeck Temple at the base of the burning ridge on Sepulveda Boulevard. The temple had staff standing by to see if the fire would be contained in time to hold Friday Shabbat services, said Abigail Spiegel, executive director.

Firefighters appeared confident they would be able to keep the flames from reaching homes, noting that the winds were light, at 7 to 9 mph. As a a precaution, people in the area were leaving of their own accord, including students and staff at Mount St. Mary's College near the Getty Center.

Authorities had not called for evacuations but cautioned people to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

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