Fires bring us closer together

fire in Griffith Park

It was an interesting night in Los Angeles. A community generally lost to each other in the confines of Bluetooth headsets and commuter traffic united in a somewhat macabre spectacle: watching Griffith Park burn.

Griffith Park on fire: a photo essay

a resident watches the flames rise

Atop a rather ordinary apartment building in Los Feliz, residents gathered on the roof with lawn chairs and beverages in hand, some carrying cameras and tripods, others with cell phones and bags of take-out. Access to the roof is only allowed during "emergency situations," apparently the threat of the neighborhood losing power was good enough for the building manager to open the perpetually locked doors.

fire! fire!

There was one resident who was proudly introducing himself to the others with the greeting, "Hi. Steve. Twelve years." I had to do a mental brainstorm which went something like, "is that the age of the scotch he's carrying? Years of education? A prison term maybe?" until I realized that this was the first time most of the residents of this building had met, and they were talking about how long they'd been there (i.e. how long they'd managed to avoid each other). I felt pretty left out with the, "hey, I'm Malingering, I've been here 4 minutes" so I just went back to shooting.

helicopters near the observatory

There were a few who decided to turn the fire department response into some sort of drinking game, so every time we saw a water-drop, they would scream and cheer and take a swig of whatever they had in their fists. Then we would count how long it would take for that bit of fire to build back up to its original pre-watered size (usually under 2 minutes).

water-drop

There was even someone there who seemed to know a great deal about fire behavior, and explained to us the differences between black smoke and white smoke and how water-drops occur. Thanks, dude.

You may be wondering why I do not have more photos of this bonding. Well, no one was wearing Ugg boots and I didn't see any muffin tops, so I figured I would let them be. It was a nice warm night of neighborly love, not to be marred by my snarky camera butting into special moments.

Okay, really it's because it wasn't my apartment building and as a guest I was trying to keep a low-profile. The doors may have been open to the residents, but an intruder like myself? I could have been hog-tied and thrown over the edge.

sort of like the Olympic torch

We also cheered for the building up the street, whose power turned back on sometime around 9:45pm. Yay for them!

power is back

Meanwhile, some had been on the roof for almost 10 hours; the content of their conversations lead me to believe that inhaling smoke of any sort has an intoxicating effect (or maybe there are some rather large marijuana harvests buried deep in Griffith Park). One of my brief conversations went something like this:

"Dude, are you from the news? Are you filming me?"
"No, I'm just taking some photos."
"Is that a video camera?"
"No, a regular camera."
"You're taking pictures of the fire?"
"Yes."
"That's CRAZY!"
"Not really."
"Are you from the LA Times?"
"No, but I will post these on LAist, you can check it tomorrow morning."
"LA what?"
"LAist. L-A-I-S-T. Dot com."
"Huh?"
"It's a website."
"Oh. Um. Do I need a computer to do that?"

on the phone

P.S. So isn't it ironic that the Dante's View garden burned last night? Not ironic in the Alanis Morissette sort of way, but actually ironic?

All photos taken especially for LAist by Malingering, who is now coughing up soot.