Letter: Fire Fears

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Letter to the Editor

Last Saturday, my husband and I waited for the heat and crowds to dissipate, and headed out for an evening walk through Escondido Canyon from our home on Winding Way (where we have lived for over 20 years).  

Larry thought he smelled smoke, so following our noses we ventured off trail through the dense brush only to find a group of six young adults grilling steaks over red-hot smoking coals. Larry immediately demanded that they stop the BBQ despite pleas that their meat wasn’t fully cooked. They were from out-of-town and “no,” knew nothing about fire danger in Malibu, and “no,” hadn’t seen the numerous signs forbidding campfires etc. 

As I hurried home to call the authorities, Larry stayed with the group to insure that their campfire had been properly extinguished. I called Lost Hills only to be told that it would take a good hour for the Sheriff to show up. I called the emergency ranger number posted on the sign several times, only to reach a dispatcher in Riverside (who insisted that Escondido Canyon was in San Diego). I was finally able to speak with someone from the MRCA (Mountain Recreation & Conservation Authority), who said he was in the San Fernando Valley. By this time, night was falling and the kids had high-tailed it out of Malibu. So Larry went back down to the site to again, ascertain that there were no stray hot coals (how else could we have gone to sleep?) We also went to Fire Station 71 to tell the guys on duty, who were not surprised about the incident we were reporting. 

We know all too well the sound of helicopters and emergency personnel that show up almost every busy weekend because this precious canyon is not adequately monitored. The garbage can (one) is overflowing with plastic water bottles scatted everywhere along with used toilet paper … and I could go on and on. There was no fire last night in Escondido Canyon, but there could have been. Where is the oversight? What is the MRCA doing to ensure public safety?

Lori Gray