Dangerous Brush Fire Checked
A fast-moving brush fire swept down from the Santa Monica Mountains on the afternoon of August 28, endangered a $1,000,000 ranch and threatened scores of homes in the Western San Fernando Valley before 300 Los Angeles City and County firemen brought it under control after a six-hour battle.
The fire broke out at 1:40 p.m. on the 40-acre ranch of Atze Taconis, a song writer, who uses a $10,000 hand-carved piano when he is not tending cattle.
Taconis told investigators that he had started his water pump going. It apparently shorted out and started the fire. He tried to beat down the flames with a hand extinguisher, but they got away from him after burning down the pump house.
The fire burned quickly north from the ranch in county territory toward the city limits along Mullholland Drive.
County Fire Department dispatchers at Battalion 5. Malibu headquarters, received the alarm at 1:41 p.m. and started all available apparatus and crews in the area rolling toward the fire.
The Van Nuys Signal Office of the L.A. Fire Department recorded the alarm two minutes later and Mountain Patrol units as well as two engines and two tanks were responded.
Sweeping north from the Taconis ranch, the flames surrounded the house, but then moved on. At Mulholland, a firebrand leaped 400 feet across the road and, before crews could attack, the fire was burning east toward Corbin Canyon.
The Qua-Leilani Ranch was threatened from both the south and west. At one point flames were within 200 yards of a $350,000 building containing 1,000,000 nursery stock slips. Workers turned on sprinklers on the ranch grounds, while employees moved out eight horses from a corral in the path oi the flames.
Among the homes that were threatened was the ranch-style building of Comedians George Burns and Gracie Allen high on the slopes south of Ventura Blvd., in the Woodland Hills section. The couple were not at home, as neighbors led two horses to safety.
Tank wagons were spotted around all threatened homes.
At one point on the eastern front, several volunteers were nearly trapped when the flames cut around behind them. They lay beneath a rig and escaped injury.
Hose Wagon 39 of the city fire department was scorched by the blaze. but its crew was uninjured.
Capt. Ray Smith of County Engine 7 reported the flames were climbing up the tailboard as he ami his crew raced ahead of the fire on a narrow, rotted mountain road.
The County Fire Department dispatched nine engine companies, four patrols, two tractors, six forestry camp crews, all under command of Battalion Chief Paul Clark, Asst. Chief Harvey Anderson, and Deputy Chief John Duncan.
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The Los Angeles Fire Department had 11 engines, 7 tank wagons, two all-wheel drive 1,000-gallon mountain patrol tanker-pumpers, a 2,500-gallon “mother tanker,” and a tractor on the lines.
At the fire were Deputy Chief Frank Rothermel, Asst. Chief Leonard Eggleston, Division 4, and Acting Asst. Chief Don Hibbard, Division 2. Some 36 move-ups were necessary, six of which moved on to the fire.