The Station Fire was the largest wildfire of the 2009 California wildfire season, as well as the largest wildfire in the history of Los Angeles County. It burned in the Angeles National Forest, igniting on August 26, 2009, near the U.S. Forest Service Angeles Station 11 ranger station on the Angeles Crest Highway,[3][4] and burned through October 16. It threatened 12,000 structures in the National Forest and the nearby communities of La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena, Glendale, Acton, La Crescenta, Juniper Hills, Littlerock and Altadena, as well as the Sunland and Tujunga neighborhoods of the City of Los Angeles.[5] Many of these areas faced mandatory evacuations as the flames drew near, but as of September 6, all evacuation orders were lifted.[6] The Station Fire burned on the slopes of Mount Wilson, threatening numerous television, radio and cellular telephone antennas on the summit, as well as the Mount Wilson Observatory, which includes several historically significant telescopes and multimillion-dollar astronomical facilities operated by UCLA, USC, UC Berkeley and Georgia State University.[7][8]

Station Fire
Pyrocumulus cloud from the Station Fire, seen from North Hollywood
  • August 26, 2009 (2009-08-26)
  • October 16, 2009 (2009-10-16)
LocationAngeles National Forest, Flintridge, California
Coordinates34°15′04″N 118°11′42″W / 34.251°N 118.195°W / 34.251; -118.195
Burned area160,577 acres (64,983 ha; 251 sq mi; 650 km2)
Deaths2 firefighters
Structures destroyed
  • 89 residences
  • 120 other structures
  • $94.7 million
  • (equivalent to about $130.7 million in 2023)
Station Fire (2009) is located in southern California
Station Fire (2009)



On August 30, two firefighters, Captain Tedmund Hall and Firefighter Specialist Arnie Quinones, died when their fire truck fell off a steep hillside near Los Angeles County Fire Department Camp 16 by Mt. Gleason during an attempt to set backfires.[9] The two firefighters, supervisors of inmate fire crews (jointly operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department and California Department of Corrections[10]), had been conducting ignition operations in order to protect personnel and Mt Gleason Camp 16 from the advancing fire front.[11] By September 15 the fire was 91% contained, with full containment expected by September 19.[12] However, the Station Fire continued to persist into the month of October.

The Station Fire was 100% contained at 7:00 pm PST on Friday, October 16, 2009, due to moderate rainfall from a powerful storm system passing through. At 160,557-acre (251 sq mi; 650 km2), the Station Fire was at the time the 9th largest wildfire in modern California history.[4][13] It remains the largest wildfire in the modern history of Los Angeles County, surpassing the 105,000-acre (164 sq mi; 425 km2) Clampitt Fire of September 1970.

The total cost of the firefighting effort amounted to $94.7 million.[14]: 22 



On September 3, officials announced that the Station Fire was caused by arson and that a homicide investigation had been initiated because of the deaths of the firefighters involved. Investigators discovered a substance at the fire's point of origin which they believe may have accelerated the flames.[15] [16]



A 40-mile (64-kilometer) stretch of the Angeles Crest Highway was closed until 2010, due to guardrail and sign damage, although the pavement remained largely intact.[17]

The U.S. Forest Service had banned night flights in wildfires after the death of a helicopter pilot in 1977.[18] But as a result of the Station Fire, several California lawmakers led by Representative Adam Schiff successfully lobbied the U.S. Forest Service to end the ban on night flights, which they did in 2012.[19]


See also



  1. ^ "Station Fire". CAL FIRE. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  2. ^ "InciWeb: Station Fire". InciWeb. Archived from the original on 4 September 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  3. ^ "New fire breaks out near Angeles Crest Highway; forces road closure. Vetter mountain fire lookout tower was also lost in this fire". Pasadena Star-News. August 26, 2009. Archived from the original on September 8, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Station Fire". InciWeb (United States Forest Service). September 4, 2009. Archived from the original on September 4, 2009. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  5. ^ "Station Fire Evening Update Aug. 31, 2009". InciWeb (United States Forest Service). August 31, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  6. ^ "Station Fire Morning Update Sept. 8, 2009". InciWeb (United States Forest Service). September 8, 2009. Archived from the original on September 15, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2009.
  7. ^ Knoll, Corinna; Becerra, Hector (August 31, 2009). "TV, cellphone signals from Mt. Wilson at risk". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
  8. ^ Madrigal, Alexis (September 4, 2009). "Mt. Wilson Observatory Saved From Fire, Others Not So Lucky". Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  9. ^ "Report cites poor communications, flawed decisions in two Station fire deaths". Los Angeles Times. April 30, 2010. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  10. ^ "Los Angeles County Fire Department - Air & Wildland - Fire Camps". Archived from the original on 2007-07-12.
  11. ^ "Arnaldo Quinones & Tedmund D. Hall". Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2015-08-21.
  12. ^ Station Fire Update Sept. 15. InciWeb.
  13. ^ "20 Largest California Wildland Fires (By Acreage Burned)" (PDF). California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. September 3, 2009. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 2, 2009. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  14. ^ Secretary of Agriculture’s Independent Large Cost Fire Review Panel; Guidance Group, Inc. (August 2010). Large Fire Cost Review for FY2009 (PDF) (Report). United States Forest Service. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 8, 2022. Retrieved March 1, 2024 – via
  15. ^ Winton, Richard (September 4, 2009). "Substance found near Station fire ignition point is key evidence in arson probe". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  16. ^ "Eight Years Later: Remembering the Station Fire". Crescenta Valley Weekly. 31 August 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2024.
  17. ^ Weikel, Dan (September 4, 2009). "Angeles Crest Highway closed indefinitely because of fire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  18. ^ "Congressman seeks night flights to battle fires". 26 May 2010.
  19. ^ "Archives". Los Angeles Times. 16 August 2012.