Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thank you to Action Heroes

Heroes are not crafted of words or images. They are made by actions. Theirs. These are the Fire Department Personnel who were given a standing ovation at the last Diamond Bar City Council Meeting.
( L-R) Deputy Chief Mike Bryant, Captain Mike Leckliter, Community Services Representative Leticia Pacillas, Captain Greg Cleveland and Battalion Chief Mario DeFina.
These are real heroes. Afew of the 538 public safety personnel assigned just to Diamond Bar plus an additional the 3700 firefighters who protected us from the Triangle Complex Fire last weekend. People who willingly dedicate their lives to what Daryl Bowler described to his mother as "Hell on earth." These next 3 images, taken by Jody Schmalz from her Yorba Linda home illustrate what Daryl felt from his home, not so many miles from hers, as the fire marched towards us.

The fire has been a big reset button for many. An instantaneous reminder of what is truly important. A lesson as to how Thanksgiving came to be as a holiday not during great prosperity, but after times of tremendous loss- first after the Pilgrims lost half their numbers after landing at Plymouth Rock. Then when it was made a holiday by President Lincoln after the Civil War.

There is no logical reason why the fire started on the Yorba Linda end of the Puente- Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor. Why some of their neighborhoods did not have time for the fire departments to send in an evacuation notice like they could here. Diamond Bar and her residents were just fortunate. We had time for the heroes to set up. The good fortune for the winds to have died down.

"Tremendous!" is the word Diamond Bar resident Vinod Kashyap described the effort in Diamond Bar.

"Everything I ever worked for stood in the way of the fire."As he waited in the evacuation center, he was aware that it was possible he could come home to a scene such as at the right, also taken by Jody. Sadly, some of her neighbors lost homes and the treasures within.

Vinod was born on another continent. Lived in many countries. During another conversation, he explained that he has lived places where he and I would not have been allowed to speak, because we are of different races. This night he declared to all who listened, that the response to the fire was just one more reason that he, "Thanked God for letting me live in this country." No where else would the effort have been so valiant, so open and without discrimination.

These next four images were taken by Daryl Bowler during breaks when he and his father stayed behind to help protect their neighborhood, which sits at the outskirts of Tonner Canyon.

Daryl and his father, John Sr., are part of a handful of people who are qualified by temperament and judgement to stay behind the lines in such a situation.

For a bit of perspective on the economic cost of fighting a fire:

In 1.5 days, 30,000 acres burned.

Phoschek drops cost $5600 per hour.

Imagine the destruction without them?

It will be good when the 3 National Guard C-130's are approved for added air support in fire suppression- scheduled for March, 2009.

Photographer Gene Sasse, who earlier allowed me to share the night shot of the fully formed 10 mile long line of fire wanted to share from his personal file from the 2003 Grand Prix Fire, which threatened his home

"This photo has alot of meaning for me, The photo was taken in front of my home with all the vegetation gone, it was so surreal - I didn't see the fireman waving until after I had processed the film. I always wished I could have said thank you to them!" - Gene Sasse

Many blessings are sent to all who called or e-mailed concern this week. I cannot adequately thank all who contributed photos, quotes and information for this short series of posts during and after this Triangle Complex Fire.

Our prayers remain with those who have suffered harm from the wildfire.

To any firefighter who reads this. From all of us: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


  1. Miss Lydia;

    I am very thankful that all of my friends came away without injury or property damage.

    We were saying prayers for all near the fires.


    George & June

  2. You should have gotten the picture of all the different fire departments trucks and crew.After they finished the fire at dbar. They went Calvary chapel, all their fire trucks were parked there, San Jose, San Francisco, etc etc. they slept in the chapel. They prepared breakfast for the staff to show their appreciation for a place to park and sleep for the night before their drive home. I was thinking in church Wed. that it was neat how they thanked Calvary chapel for letting them park and stay. but it was neater that they were humble enough to say thank you for breakfast from the chapel. They left after Pastor Raul gave them blessings and of course sharing The Word. anyway, enough said, it is just Great that you want to let God know that you know He is watching over us.
    Blessings for a great day Patty

  3. Lydia,
    What a lovely posting. I am so glad you talked about Vinod's comments at the council meeting. Truly it was what we were all thinking. God Bless America!
    I didn't know about Calvery Chapel and what they were doing for the firefighters. God Bless them. Our neighbor has a huge banner on their garage that says "THANK YOU FIREFIGHTERS". Every day the trucks are still coming up our street and going up the access road to the wilderness. They see that banner. While bringing in my trash cans on Wednesday there was a LA County firetruck in our cul de sac and I thanked them profusely! Wish I could do more for them. On Tuesday there were six fire engines going up our street and I did not recognize any of the county names on those trucks so I know they have come from many different places. Their work didn't end when the fires were out. They have been up there every day since. Bless them all including our wonderful LA County Sheriff's Department!
    Yes, this Thanksgiving will have a new meaning for us all.

  4. Sad news was recieved regarding Vinod Kashap, who spoke so eloquently at the Diamond Bar City Council Meeting. His cousin, Jay, was killed in an auto accident.
    He took time to send a note to a friend who contacted him about what he said at the meeting,
    "Words flow naturally when they come from the heart. At times like these, there are no words left to express our debt of gratitude to the many firemen who risk their lives for the community. These brave men and women in yellow fire suits and hard hats go about doing their duty day in day out. It is only when I have had the opportunity to meet them in regular street clothes that I have realized that they too have homes and families like the rest of us. The only difference is that they go about performing their daily duties without expectations of rewards, If the community needs role models, we need look no further."
    Love, hugs and blessings to this fine man and his family. May God love and comfort you.

  5. Lydia,
    I do not like to post under Anonymous but I forgot to sign my note above that was posted at 9:21.

    Thank you for posting Vinod's words from his letter. My heart breaks for him and his family and especially for Jay's immediate family. Let's all pray for them at this time.

    XO Trisha

  6. Hi, Trisha- I'm sorry my brain was not fully operating when I read your post and hit the send button. You have been lovely to write in- using the "anonymous" button- it streamlines everything. While I usually don't know who anonymous is- I should have recognized your letter and checked with you to see if you meant to not sign it before posting.
    My heart goes out to Vinod. My sister-in-law, Billie, also lost a brother last week. Frankie was about 48. Much too young. Quite unexpected.
    This is why every morning I wake up- and if I can wiggle my toes- that alone is reason to celebrate. And to live life on purpose.
    Time to visit my roses...

  7. Definitely a very big and grateful THANK YOU !!!

  8. Great article and photos. What a horrible tragedy for so many people. I'm so glad you and Gerry made it through okay. B

  9. Numerous sources have pointed out that not included in the dollar figures when we see the cost of last weekend’s tragic wildfire, is the cost that taxpayers paid to create the conditions that insured that fire was destined to happen.
    For those who are unfamiliar-
    In the early 1980’s, with over 30 separate acquisitions, the State spent over $100 million to acquire 14,000 acres that made up the initial boundaries of Chino Hills State Park, making it, at that time, the most complicated and expensive state park in California history. And, they did this even though the State had no funds to maintain this property in such a manner as to minimize the possibility of one wildfire devastating all 14,000 acres- and beyond.

    Subsequently, taxpayers’ funds were again used, this time to buy what is known as the Coal Canyon Biological Corridor. Here, two parcels of land comprised the last remaining linkage between the Chino Hills State Park and the Santa Ana Mountains at Coal Canyon. State Parks purchased the first parcel in October 2000 for $40 million. The second parcel was secured in July 2001 for $13.5 million.

    Thus far, not counting what was spent to purchase an addition 4,000 acres in the Whittier Hills area, special interests- many who have been at times less than forthcoming about their financial interests in acquisition- pressed Sacramento lawmakers into spending over $153.5 Million in order to string together the properties that make up what unfortunately turned out to be the Puente/Chino Hills Wild-FIRE Corridor.

    The silliness is not limited to stopping fire mitigation and purchase of land without funding to properly stewarded. Recently, SC Edison proposed paying Chino Hills State Park tens of millions of dollars which would have allowed funding for expansion of the park in southern Chino Hills. In exchange, SCE asked for the right to re-route Edison’s new high tech green power from windmills in an alignment across Chino Hills State Park. This which would have brought wind power generated electricity to So Cal.

    Further, there is an additional 13,000+ undeveloped acres near Tonner Canyon, about 2,000 acres of which burned last weekend, that the enviro-terrorists want to add to the Puente/Chino Hills Wild-FIRE corridor and have been trying to convince Sacramento for years to purchase more land at a cost estimated in the range of $500 Million and $1 Billion .

    More frustrating, a few local cities- Brea, La Habra and Whittier- have agreed to an ongoing public relations campaign filled with $500,000 from local coffers to encourage purchase land the owner does not wish to sell……. If they are successful, it will stop serious efforts to mitigate the fire hazard. Hills for Everyone intends to stop what it describes as a 210,000 acre foot fresh water reservoir (which if it existed, could have been used to quickly douse last weekend’s wildfires) and a Regional Bypass Roadway (which would act as a fire-break staging area),. This roadway, if built on the very same Tonner Canyon property that burned right up to the Diamond Bar residential homes which had to be evacuated, future wildfires would be easier to fight.

    I hope this has been clear. The supporting facts contained within are public record or commonly available on Hills for Everyone

  10. Well said, Lydia.

    Let's hope everyone reads these facts and understands that this particular wildfire was
    something that could have - and with the amount of money expended, should have - been avoided.

    I doubt those that lost their homes in this tragedy will find much solace in that fact. Nor, should they. If I were in their shoes, I think I'd be filing lawsuits against every government agency (beginning with the City of Brea, who has been the biggest stumbling block to building that water reservoir and Bypass Road) that participated in this act of gross negligence.

    (I don't even want to think about the possibility - or the associated ramifications - of some large carnivore attacking some child along this so-called "wildlife corridor" or what that would mean to the family involved.)

    Thankfully, those same government agencies that created the situation also employed the courageous men and women of the local fire and police departments that fought these horrific wildfires as best they could. It seems to me, however, that had these agencies not taken the actions that they did to create this situation in the first place, the heroic efforts of our best and bravest men and women would never have been necessary.

  11. Dear anonymous- If you believe the words are worth repeating- please pass them around.


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