LA Forest Fire Said Started By
Pagans In Animal Sacrifice

By Michelle Rester
Staff Writer Pasadena Star News

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST - The Curve fire that has consumed more than 16,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest was started by candles used in a ritual involving animal sacrifice, U.S. Forest officials said late Wednesday.
Fire investigators concluded it was candles that sparked the blaze which originated in Bichota Mesa, said Cliff Johnson, fire information officer with the U.S. Forest Service.
"I'm not sure what they found," he said. Details about the investigation were scarce.
Arson is believed to be the cause of the fire.
Rumored reports of a Satanic cult or a group of "witches" that are regularly seen in the forest lighting candles and cutting off chicken heads are also being looked into, sources said Wednesday.
More than 1,640 firefighters continued to battle the fire on Wednesday, as the blaze moved in nearly every direction.
In the fourth day of the blaze which started during the busy Labor Day weekend crews watered the flames and scurried to build fire lines to control the burn.
"It's moving somewhat west toward the San Gabriel Valley Wilderness area, a little bit to the north ... and most of the spread will probably be to the east into the Sheep Wilderness area," said Ed Gililland, a fire information officer for the U.S. Forest Service. "We're holding along the south pretty well."
More than 16,000 acres of chaparral and steep terrain have been charred since the fire started about 12:35 p.m. Sunday. With it, at least 72 structures have been gutted, including 50 recreation cabins built in the 1920s and 1930s and a historic ranger station at Coldbrook Station.
It might be Tuesday evening before Curve Fire is contained. That's the best estimate by fire officials in charge of different areas of the blaze, officials said. By late Wednesday, 15 percent had been contained.
Firefighters are hoping that weather forecasts for rain come true. A 50 percent chance of rain is expected today through Friday, with temperatures dropping to the upper 60s and 70s in the forest and in the upper 80s and 90s for the rest of the San Gabriel Valley, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist for the National Weather Service.
"Any moisture we can get is real helpful," Gililland said. "Our only concern being is if it comes with lightning, but we welcome the rain."
Los Angeles County firefighters broke bread during a thank-you lunch with the volunteer firefighters at Follows Camp, near the East Fork of the canyon. Several crews were stationed there to protect the trailers and motor homes at the camp in the event the blaze headed over the one ridge that separated campers there from danger.
Others stopped at the area's only restaurant for lunch and to rest on top of the fire trucks and in chairs on the ground.
Joe Davison, the longtime owner of the camp, says he lost at least $5,000 on Sunday when the fire forced him to send nearly 1,000 weekend campers home and refund some of their money.
Lou Stevens and her husband are one of dozens of families who chose not to leave their Follows Camp homes when a voluntary evacuation was put into effect Monday.
"We have nowhere else where we could go," said Stevens, 55. "We weren't that worried. It's something you get used to up here. And last night, the sky just glowed. It was beautiful, sad to say."
The camp, and another one nearby, are closed to the public and open only to residents, officials said.
Although the fire does not represent a significant amount of the 692,000-acre forest, it does make up a sizable portion of the forest accessible to the public. And officials estimate there were about 8,000 to 10,000 people camping or taking part in other festivities Sunday afternoon when the fire started.
"The San Gabriel Canyon is very, very populated," said Gail Wright, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. "This is a very well-used recreation area and it is a large part of where people recreate."
About 300 motorists in the north end of the forest were evacuated out of the canyon via a normally locked entrance to the Angeles Crest (2) Highway from Highway 39. The entrance has been closed since 1978, and some mountain dwellers have fought to have it reopened for years, citing public safety concerns.
Barry Wetherby is one of them. Wetherby, whose Pasadena Bait Club cabin in the West Fork has been unaffected by the fire, says he shudders to think about the lives that might have been lost had it not been for sheriff's deputies who opened the gate to Highway 2.
He also says cabin owners have asked for a meeting with representatives from the Angeles National Forest Service to answer complaints about whether enough personnel was sent in and whether the proper equipment was used. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at the Glendora Public Library.
"They think that some of these cabins should have been saved and they don't know why it happened," Wetherby said. "A lot of these places have been owned by Hollywood actors, and there's so much history, I can't even tell you. One of them was made out of all saws."
Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call the Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations at (626)574-5351. ___
Michelle Rester can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2127, or by e-mail at
Tom Mahoney
While I'm aware that you did not write the article that appears on I wish to go on record as one who takes issue with you repeating such misinformation in a public forum. The author will hear from me as well.
I can't speak for 'Satanic cults,' but I can tell you with considerable accuracy that witches do not remove the heads of chickens - or any other animal. Neither does any other 'pagan' faith that I've ever been aware of. In fact, harming any living creature would be totally against the beliefs.
Witches do embrace the candle as a part of some rituals, but the last time I looked, so do some Christian faiths.
Perhaps the fire was caused by a Christian group preparing a pot of chicken soup. It makes as much sense, after all, and would be based on as much fact. But then it wouldn't be interesting press, now would it?
Tom Mahoney
Lititz, PA

Duely noted, Tom. Just as the term Christian, which has been around a long time, and carries with it certain implications which may or may not properly define or characterize, we do seem to labor under the diffuclty of labels which cast an ill shadow today. - webmaster


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