Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, April 27, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 3

FIRE - continued from page 1

Like every job, the job’s not done until 
the paperwork done.

SMNN: What is your most vivid 
memory of the fire, during the fire?
Chief Heydorff: The way the fire would 
lay down during the day and then race 
up the hill during the night. The fire 
would give you hope at the end of the 
day and then disappointment every 

SMNN: What is your most vivid 
memory of the fire, relating to 
community reaction to the fire?
Chief Heydorff: The kindness and 
openness our residents showed to the 
engine companies that were here from 
out of town. I had comments from 
engine captains commenting on how 
friendly our city is.

SMNN: What was your proudest 
moment during and/or after the fire?
Chief Heydorff: Working with Team 
3, a type 2 federal overhead team, I 
was amazed at the amount of resources 
that were available to Sierra Madre. We 
had equipment from Area C, the State 
(CAL-fire) and the federal government, 
United States Forest Service.


One of the big parts of the fire was need 
to evacuate people, and control traffic 
in the fire area, as lookie-loos came 
from all over. Chief Larry Giannone 
was a Captain at the time, under then 
Chief Marilyn Diaz, and was in charge 
of operations for the PD. We asked the 
Chief if he’d help with this article...

SMNN: What unanticipated issues 
did you encounter during the fire 
and what has been done to overcome 
them in the event of the next fire?
Chief Giannone: Unanticipated issues 
were just the lack of dealing with this 
type of event, especially since we had 
not had a fire of its magnitude for many 
years. People that had worked in the 
city during the last fire had moved on 
or retired. So for many of the staff this 
was something new. For the PD Staff 
and outside agencies that had arrived 
to assist us the biggest unanticipated 
issue was the “sternness” of many who 
refused to leave their homes when 
evacuations were taking place. It would 
seem that one’s life would outweigh 
the loss of property. There are many 
different opinions out there, many of 
us just took it for granted that people 
would leave. We had to quickly adjust 
our game plan to respect the wishes of 

 The fire moved quickly and the length 
of the event was also unanticipated. We 
are better prepared now in dealing with 
this by knowing upfront that this type 
of event is going to be long and we need 
to spread our resources out and that is 
somewhat hard to do when they want 
to come to work immediately to help, 
because that is what we are sworn to do.

SMNN: How are we better prepared 
to face a major fire from a PD 
standpoint then we were in 2008?
Chief Giannone: Better prepared just 
comes with experience. As I mention 
above a lot of the experience from the 
past was gone. City Staff in 2008 is 
still here and if it happened tomorrow 
we would know that these are long 
term events and we need to plan for it 
accordingly. Outside resources would 
be called in immediately and personnel 
would be spread out and scheduled 
so people were not here for days and 
working past their capacity. We also 
know that we need a very large area 
to stage personnel and equipment 
and that is also something that would 
take place immediately instead of 
days later. We have to have a unified 
command center where everyone 
can be. We have improved our 
communication equipment as a result 
of lessons learned. I have worked 
our fire, was in charge of some of the 
outside resources for the Station Fire, 
and just recently assisted with the fire 
in Monrovia. You learn from each of 
these types of events what works and 
what doesn’t and you go home at night 
just hoping it does not happen to your 
community again.

SMNN: What is your most vivid 
memory of the fire, during the fire?

Chief Giannone: My most vivid 
memory of the fire was the first night, 
after a very long day, sitting in the city 
yards and watching the flames roll 
across the hillsides. Watching Mother 
Nature take over for something we 
were having difficulty controlling was 
a very eery sight and the anticipation 
of what the end result was going to be 
for our community never left my mind.

SMNN: What is your most vivid 
memory of the fire, relating to 
community reaction to the fire?
Chief Giannone: My most vivid 
memory when it came down to 
the community reaction was how 
the community opened it’s doors 
and businesses to the hundreds of 
fire fighters and police officers that 
responded to the situation. The 
overwhelming response from the 
community to feed the personnel and 
offer them a warm bed if need be was 
truly a community pulling together. 
And let us not forget our volunteers 
who came to call of need and were 
there by our sides supporting us in 
many different ways.

SMNN: What was your proudest 
moment during and/or after the fire?
Chief Giannone: The proudest 
moment during the fire was seeing not 
only the police department, but all the 
other city departments, stand together 
during that long week to get things 
done, while tragedy moved across our 
hillsides. Unknown to many, City 
Staff was working around the clock 
behind the scenes to bring the some 
sense of security and normalization 
to the community. Many of us did 
not go home for days. You also 
have to thank the outside agencies 
that responded without question to 
help our community. Police and fire 
personnel from around the San Gabriel 
Valley protected our community and 
it was a proud moment to see the 
different uniforms in the community 
committed to the same goal of keeping 
the community safe. No homes were 
lost and no people were injured or 
killed. We all have to take a moment to 
realize how successful we were in our 

The Cost of the Fire

 I contacted City Manager Elaine 
Aguilar and requested financial 
information and some personal 
memories, and received back the 

SMNN: What was the total cost of 
the fire to the City? Is it paid off? 
The total cost of the fire was $2.8 
million, of which the City’s share was 
59% or $1.6 million. It took 16 months, 
but thanks to the diligent work of staff, 
we were able to receive federal and state 
grants to cover about 80% of the City’s 

SMNN: How much money was 
donated to the Community Foundation 
fund (set up to help with the cost 
of the fire), and how was it used? 
Just over $10,000 was donated to the 
Community Foundation – this was 
used to offset the City’s remaining costs 
for the fire.

SMNN: What issues for the City 
did you see in the last fire, and 
how have they been addressed?
Elaine: Everyone responded exactly 
as we could have hoped and as they 
were trained to do – we handled this 
event heroically. One major thing we 
made sure to address was that our staff 
worked too many consecutive hours – 
we couldn’t get them to go home and 
rest. We have since gotten stricter when 
the EOC opens with time keeping and 
rotating staff 12 hours on, 12 hours off 
to ensure our staff is getting adequate 

SMNN: What is your most vivid 
memory of the fire, during the fire?
Elaine: The image of the banner over 
Baldwin – looking up the mountain 
and seeing the outline of the mountain 
engulfed in flames.

SMNN: What is your most vivid 
memory of the fire, relating to 
community reaction to the fire?
Elaine: How much the residents cared 
and were involved – to the point of 
going out and buying coffee for the first 

SMNN: What was your proudest 
moment during and/or after the fire?
Elaine: Seeing all of the City staff from 
all the departments coming together to 
work as a team.

City Communication Response to the 

 Elisa Cox (then known as Elisa 
Weaver) was the Public Information 
Officer during the fire, and she and 
other members of staff that also served 
as PIO were instrumental in getting 
the word out through the various 
media, including SierraMadreNews.
Net. I asked her if she’d help with 
this article, asking questions about 
communications and her personal 
recollections, and here’s what I got 

SMNN: How much better prepared are 
we to communicate to people during the 
next fire? 

The City was very prepared and 
commended multiple times for its 
communication with the residents 
during the fire. Our greatest changes 
or enhancements over the past five 
years include the launch of AM-1630, 
the City’s Emergency Radio Station, 
the expansion of the City’s eBlasts 
notifications, and the explosion of 
social media – Facebook and Twitter 
have become excellent sources for 
extending information quickly.

SMNN: Will press releases be 
posted on the City website, as well? 
Generally, all our press releases are 
posted on the City website. However, 
in an emergency like a major wildfire 
or earthquake, the priority goes to 
eBlasts, Facebook and Twitter as they 
are the quickest way of communicating 
with the public we have at this time. If 
we cannot post press releases on the 
website, there is generally a note on 
the website to visit the City’s Facebook 
page for the latest information.

SMNN: Are we better prepared 
to utilize SMTV3 than we were? 
We have not greatly updated the 
technology with SMTV3 since 
the Santa Anita Fire. The City still 
utilizes this resource to post slides 
with emergency information and, 
pending an emergency, does not affect 
our television infrastructure, we are 
equipped to air live from the Council 

SMNN: What is your most vivid 
memory of the fire, during the fire?
Elisa: I was in my office (on a Saturday) 
finishing up some paperwork for 
the Goldberg Park planting we had 
that morning and stepped outside to 
check on the Jazz Festival the former 
Community Arts Commission was 
hosting, I looked up and saw flames 
on the mountain. I had the distinct 
thought, “We’re not going home any 
time soon.”

SMNN: What is your most vivid 
memory of the fire, relating to 
community reaction to the fire?
Elisa: Everyone was pitching in. 
Commissioners showed up to see how 
they could help out; friends-of-friends 
were helping people they, barely (if at 
all) knew, pack up and evacuate homes. 
Lifeguard staff came in on their own to 
help make sandwiches, and residents 
all over the place were posting signs 
of thanks and appreciation. It always 
amazes me how much we come 
together as a community in times of 

SMNN: What was your proudest 
moment during and/or after the fire?
Elisa: After Team 3 took over 
command of the Fire, Team 3’s PIO 
Team requested that the City’s PIO 
team stay in place because we had such 
a great grass roots communication 
system set up. The PIO Leader told us 
that he had not worked with a locality 
whose information team had been so 
prepared and effective in reaching the 
local residents.

Mt. Wilson Trail Race Postponed
The Mt. Wilson Trail Race of 2008 
(the 100 year anniversary of the first 
running of the race) was postponed was 
scheduled for May 24th, and thanks 
to what Trail Race Chair Pete Siberell 
described as a “herculean effort” 
by Charlie Bell, Pete Siberell, Gary 
Hilliard, John Grace, Pete McNulty, 
Mark Gage, and Mark Hacker and a 
crew of volunteers, the race was still 
going to take placeuntil a freak May 
rain storm on the 22nd caused the trail 
to be, as Siberell describes it “extremely 
rutted and uneven due to the water 
(cont. page 4)


Mountain Views-News Saturday, April 27, 2013 





Tuesday, April 30, 2013

7:00 am - 8:30 am

Hart Park House in Memorial Park

222 W, Sierra Madre Blvd. Sierra Madre, Ca.






Kiwanis meets at The Lodge (formerly the Mason Lodge) 
at 33 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. Ample parking 
available in the rear of the building.

The presentation is free and will begin at 12:30. Lunch begins at noon as is $10. Call 626-355-0728 
to reserve your seat.