Good timing

Magazine coverEditorial judgment or just luck? I dunno, but the big story on the cover of the November issue of Los Angeles (ignore John Cusack) is Dave Gardetta's post-mortem on last spring's big Griffith Park wildfire. Cover line: "Forget earthquakes. What the city should fear is fire." The foretelling continues inside, where the subhead says of Griffith Park, "Had those flames ignited amid this month's Santa Ana winds, the result could have been a disaster the likes of which L.A. has never witnessed." (The story went to press about three weeks ago.) Gardetta reconstructs the day the fire spread through the park, catches Councilman Tom LaBonge in action, and speculates on how it could have been much worse.

The Hollywood Hills are the most serious hazard in the LAFD's purview—the twisting canyons, the housing density, the terrible road access. "If you had a strong Santa Ana wind blowing that night into the Hollywood Hills," says battalion chief Corey Rose, who was assigned by the LAFD to compile a history of the fire, "God only knows what would have happened."


Quietly, commanders will tell you that in a conflagration such as the one Rose and Fry imagine—Griffith Park as the sulfur tip of a matchstick that is the Hollywood Hills—a thousand homes could be destroyed, and success would be not losing a life. On May 8, they say, the Hollywood Hills skirted disaster.

On page 30 of the issue, but not online, Rachel Neuwirth gets the whole page to rebut Jesse Katz' characterizations of her (and of Israel) in the magazine's September article about the 2003 encounter between Neuwirth and Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller at UCLA's Royce Hall.

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