Officials unveil plaque honoring firefighters killed in Calif. wildfire

The hard work and skill of the first-responders were credited for keeping the county's largest wildfire in history from destroying any homes

By Brian Day
The Pasadena Star-News

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. — City officials Thursday unveiled a plaque honoring the firefighters and sheriff's deputies who responded to last year's massive Station Fire.

Officials credited the hard work and skill of those first-responders for keeping the county's largest wildfire in history from destroying any homes in La Canada Flintridge.

"After the Station Fire, we realized how fortunate we are," City Councilman Gregory Brown said.

Firefighters "were instrumental in saving our community and other communities," he said, while also thanking deputies for protecting lives and property during the blaze that ultimately scorched more than 250,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest.

The fire, which started last Aug. 26, destroyed 90 homes. Two Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters, 47-year-old Capt. Tedmund "Ted" Hall and 35-year-old firefighter Specialist Arnaldo "Arnie" Quinones, died battling the blaze.

"The bottom line here today is just to say thank you, thank you, thank you," Brown said at the unveiling of the plaque mounted on a small boulder at Memorial Park.

County fire Assistant Chief Bill Niccum, accompanied by Cpt. David Silversparre of the sheriff's Crescenta Valley Station and a handful of deputies and firefighters, accepted the honor.

"We would like to thank the city of La Canada Flintridge and its people for their generosity and kindness extended toward the first-responders," Niccum said. "Our goal is to protect lives and property, and the city has been a great partner."

The outpouring of community support for firefighter and deputies continued long after the fire was 100 percent contained Oct. 16, Niccum added.

He also took a moment to honor Hall and Quinones.

Councilwoman Laura Olhasso said the plaque represented "a little bit of closure to that horrible week" when the blaze burned near La Canada Flintridge.

Niccum said foothill residents now need to prepare for another fire season, encouraging them to follow his department's "Ready, Set, Go!" wildfire action plan.

The plan involves clearing brush around homes; having a family evacuation plan; and quickly heeding evacuation orders.

Niccum said he understands that evacuating and leaving their homes behind is difficult for residents, but it's vital for public safety.

"We will make every effort to re-populate your communities as quickly as it is safe to do so," he said.

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