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2009 Los Angeles County Station Fire, 2008 Freeway Complex Fire, 2008 Fires of Southern California Analyzed With Memory Jogger Tools In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Course FCS 597, Analytical Techniques for Decision Support and Innovation By Leah Burton, Thomas Dominguez,

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2009 Los Angeles County Station Fire, 2008 Freeway Complex Fire, 2008 Fires of Southern California Analyzed With Memory Jogger Tools

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Course

FCS 597, Analytical Techniques for Decision Support and Innovation

By Leah Burton, Thomas Dominguez,

Adam Feuerbach, Christopher Kurtz, and Khai Luu

FCS 597

Dr. Tom Granoff

August21, 2010


2009 Station Fire………………………………………………..…..3 - 9

2008 Freeway Complex …………………………………………...10-19

2008 Fires of Southern California………………………………….20-27



Station Fire

Angeles National Forest

Los Angeles County, California

August 26 to October 16, 2009

“The station Fire was an angry and deadly fire with conditions never seen before” (Deputy Chief Mike Bryant Los Angeles County Fire Department and Station fire incident Commander)

Station Fire - Summary

  • The Station Fire was the largest wildand fire in Los Angeles County history and the 10th largest fire in California history

  • 250 square miles were burned which is about five times the size of the City of Long Beach or about the size of Chicago Illinois

  • 132.6 mile fire perimeter which is equal to almost four hours of driving at 35 mph or just over two hours of driving at 60 mph

  • 4.5 million gallons of water dropped by helicopters

  • The Station Fire cost 93 million dollars to fight and extinguish

Station Fire - Summary

  • 5,000 thousand Firefighters assigned to the incident 

  • 10,000 thousand residents threatened

  • Property value of homes and personal property: 4 billion dollars

  • Telecommunication assets saved on Mount Wilson: 10.2 Billon dollars

  • Estimated Firefighting cost (staffing, materials, etc.) to protect Mount Wilson assets: 10 to 15 million dollars

  • Pre-existing conditions:Five year drought; 45 tons of unburned fuel per acre; Zero moisture in all fuels (live and dead)

Station Fire - Interviews

  • Station fire Incident Commander Deputy Chief Mike Bryan (LAFD) and a Captain from LAFD and a Captain from Santa Fe Springs

  • Station fire was a plume-driven fire with conditions very similar to the eruption of Mount Saint Helens. This fire created its own weather with ultra-extreme conditions never seen before such as 250 foot flame lengths .

  • The Station fire now represents a paradigm shift in wildland firefighting management where firefighters can no longer combat the fire and must follow the citizens that have been evacuated.

  • Fire fighters are not trained to NOT engage in fire combat in a plume-driven fire.

Memory Jogger Tools – Cause & Effect / Fishbone Diagram

Top Down Go-No Go Decision Process Flowchart

Memory Jogger Tools – Flowchart

Make fire predictions based on S-390 Field Guide table 6c

Gather fire conditions and observations

Fight fire and continue to gather/evaluate fire conditions and observations

Evacuate and DO NOT engage in fire combat.

Can predictions be made?



Continue to gather/evaluate fire conditions and observations

Memory Jogger Tools – Tree Diagram:

Freeway Complex Fire - Summary

The Corona Fire or Freeway Fire began 9:01 a.m. November 15, 2008, in Corona, California. The fire spread into hillsides of Yorba Linda, Anaheim Hills, Brea, Chino Hills, and Diamond Bar.

The Landfill Fire, also known as the "Brea Fire," was reported at 10:43 a.m. on November 15, 2008; the fire quickly spread West and eventually jumped the Orange (57) Freeway.

The Landfill Fire merged with the Freeway Fire at 3:30 a.m. on November 16, 2008. At approximately 7:00 a.m. the two fires were officially renamed the Triangle Complex Fire, then renamed again to the "Freeway Complex Fire."


Freeway Complex Fire - Summary

Orange County Fire Authority (2009):

  • The Freeway Complex Fire burned 30,305 acres across three canyons and several North Orange County communities in 2008. It was the largest fire in Orange County since 1948.

  • Orange County Fire Authority said the fire was the "most catastrophic loss of homes in Orange County since the Laguna Fire in 1993." A total of 203 homes were destroyed. More than 40,000 people were forced from their homes. No one died or was seriously injured. 

  • Total cost to fight the fires was $16.1 million dollars; all but $33,000 was reimbursed by state and federal funds. The fires caused an estimated $150 million in damage and more than 3,800 firefighters were deployed from more than 260 fire agencies, with over 650 fire engines. Approximately 375 officers from 19 local agencies were deployed to assist with the incident.

Problems During the Freeway Complex Fire

  • Lack of Manpower (firefighters, strike teams).

  • Lack of Resources (Engines, Water Trucks).

  • On-scene resources (Dry Hydrants).

  • Several Residences without Fire Resistance (Roofing, Brush Cleared).

  • Climate (wind, humidity, temperature).

  • Multiple Fires involved and spread out.

  • Lack of immediate Air Support.

  • Terrain.

  • Several Rouge Firefighter and Engines Stranded and placed themselves in Danger, needing immediate assistance.

  • Communication.

Freeway Complex Fire: Interview Summary

  • Mario Castillo, Olinda Landfill Engineer, Landfill Fire

    Did not formally use SEMS or NIMS in the response and relied on past

    experience fighting landfill fires as Action Plan. Onsite staff (8 to

    10) and 2 Landfill Engineers, as rotating Incident Commanders, battled

    the fire with onsite water reserves, then with soil to preserve critical

    infrastructure (power plants). Received no assistance from County Fire.

  • CPT The-Khai Luu, Military Liaison Officer, Southern REOC

    Agency official attached to REOC 15-16 November 2008, night shift.

    Coordinated National Guard aerial assets for logistical support & fire

    suppression over Diamond Bar, and issued Warning Order for wild land

    fire trained National Guard to mobilize under State Active Duty –Title

    32. On a personal note, Fire came within 1 mile of home in Diamond

    Bar and during off-shift evacuated family.

Challenge Statement

In what ways might California operational areas encourage public sector, private sector, and volunteer organizations to work collaboratively with each other for all phases of emergency management?

Memory Jogger Tools – Affinity Diagram

Step 1: Phrase issue under discussion in a full sentence.

Step 2: Brainstorm at least 20 ideas or issues.

Step 3: (Without talking), sort ideas into groupings.

Step 4: For each grouping , create header cards.

Promote Cooperation

Revise MOUs & Documents

Financial Incentives

Memory Jogger Tools – Brain Storming 6-3-5

Step 1: Assemble team, and clarify the issue.

Step 2: Complete the 6-3-5 worksheets.

Step 3: Analyze the ideas, and select the best ones.


Memory Jogger Tools – Force Field Analysis

Step 1: Draw a large letter “T” on a flipchart.

Step 2: Prioritize the driving forces that can be Positive/Negative

Ideal State: Local stakeholders work collaboratively with Operational Areas


Memory Jogger Tools – Interrelationship Digraph (ID)

Step 1: Agree on the issue/problem statement

Step 2: Have team brainstorm on answers to issue, list on cards

Step 3: Identify relationships between ideas and draw relationship arrows

Modify MOUs

Regular Commo


All Stakeholder Meetings

More Training

Friendly Competition



Memory Jogger Tools – Nominal Group Technique

Step 1: Generate list of issues or problems to be prioritized.

Step 2: Write statements that answer issue or problem.

Step 3: Organize statements by A, B, C, D, etc.

Step 4: Have team rank statements 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc and add up the values; the highest number represents highest priority to solve.


2008 Fires of Southern California

Nine documented wild land fires in Southern California (31 throughout the state)

Burned almost 47,000 acres in So Cal

Three November fires alone had thousands of firefighters working for the most of month combating approximately 43,000 acres of scorched earth.

One potential fatality and over 32 injuries

Various ignition sources from human to natural events

400 homes and 500 mobile homes destroyed

Various ignition sources from human to natural events

Fire teams from California, Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon; in addition to International support.

2008 Fires of Southern California - Summary

Investigative Questions

Memory Jogger Tools – Check Sheet

Memory Jogger Tools – Flow Chart

Memory Jogger Tools – Flow Chart

Memory Jogger Tools – Flow Chart

Memory Jogger Tools – Brainwriting

How can firefighters and police officers improve manpower and communication shortcomings during critical incidents?


  • Three separate fire emergency were analyzed to address issues that may impede working relationships between the public, private sector, and volunteer organizations.

  • It is paramount these entities work together during all phases of emergency management to protect life and property.

  • Identifying areas of absent training as in the Station Fire will help future fire fighters have the tools they need to identify and evacuate during a plume-fire.

  • Revisions of MOUs, promoting cooperation, providing financial incentives and presenting a unified command system help agencies mitigate and prepare.

  • Agencies must understand the collective communication system; communication equipment must be monitored and updated.


In Memory

This section is dedicated to the memory of Los Angeles County Fire Fighter Specialist Arnaldo Quinones and Camp 16 Superintendent Captain Tedmund Hall who died defending Camp 16 during the Station fire.


Brassard, M, & Ritter, D. (2010). The Memory Jogger 2: Tools for

Continuous Improvement and Effective Planning. Salem, NH:


Orange County Fire Authority. (2009). Freeway Complex – After Action

Report. Retrieved from http://www.ocfa.org/pages/ocfa. asp?

filename=freewayic.asp on August 2, 2010.


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