Coping with the La Tuna Fire

Fires suck, but this is the Valley.

Despite my views on climate change, I am convinced that most of the surrounding natural areas are due to burn one way or another.

Last year, I was super excited to see the Tour of California roll through the Valley and share our beauty over the airwaves across the world only to watch it all burn down a month later.




Even biking in Little Tujunga now, the scars are still apparent with homes still left in disrepair and charred portions of landscape.

And that’s without mentioning the Station Fire eight years ago that claimed two firefighters lives.

The Verdugo Mountains are a special place that gets overlooked because this is LA and there are so many things to do.



Fun in the Verdugos earlier this year with the Radavist and Specialized.


If this steep, vertical upcropping was placed in any other city, it would be a centerpiece.

This is a very travelled recreation area frequented by walkers, cyclists and hikers.

You’re treated to some spectacular views of the region as surprisingly, the range peaks out slightly above any point in the Santa Monica Mountains.




Plenty you can see from up here.


The paths are well maintained and the benches and markings are better than what you’ll see at most places off-roading in LA.

Even if you don’t ride dirt, cyclists should still be familiar riding La Tuna Canyon.

It’s six miles of uninterrupted riding that’s a number of cyclists use which is part of the Thursday Barry Wolfe Ride and Sunday Team Hollywood Love Ride among others.



Looking back at Sunland / Tujunga / the 210, I wonder how much this view has changed.


As much as I love them, seeing the Verdugos on fire is something that I’d never wish for, but this is not a surprise.

Decades of dead brush only accumulates as the wind can only take so much of it away.

We’ve been pretty lucky as the summer has felt cooler than normal, but last Monday temperatures started a streak of making it safely it over 100 degrees daily.

I remember seeing the Verdugos Friday afternoon in their regular state only hours later seeing the flames encompass the hillside.



Progression of the La Tuna Fire Map


I’ve seen a lot of fires across the Valley from my parents house on the hillside, but I was shocked to see the heavy amount of brightness from my house.

I live eight miles away from the fire’s epicenter on flatland and seeing the flames so prominent even with all the tree branches in the way made me know this was fast spreading.

That night I kept waking up and checking the news as the situation only seemed to get worse.

Fortunately for us, we were getting away from the bad air quality in the morning leaving for a trip, but we had to clean the ashes off of our cars first.


The La Tuna Fire on the doorsteps of my friend’s home.

 The fire is now in its final stages and the firefighters did a remarkable job keeping damage down to a minimum, especially under the circumstances.

We will soon move onto the next step of assessing the destruction and hoping for the regrowth process to happen sooner than later.

At the same time, we have to recognize that this is the norm more than an outlier. As this fire dies down, there are still dozens taking place across the state.

Back when I was a trailrunner frequenting the more remote areas of the region, I could see how vulnerable these places were to fires.

And that was ten years ago.

I don’t mean to raise fear, but this is a reality we must face. Many of us weren’t around to remember the 1961 Bel Air Fire, but I warn people to not think of that as an anomaly.

Even though many of us don’t live right next to a hillside, I’m sure we all know many people that do.

There’s a lot that can happen in Southern California, so let’s all remember to be disaster prepared no matter what the circumstance.