Now that the fires out and the smoke cleared I'll address this one. If you live in the Los Angleles area you may have noticed 740 KBRT-AM off air for a few days starting Thursday May 10th. You probably also noticed the vile plume of smoke slewing across the bay in the wind and windered why in hell Santa Monica Bay smelled worse than the East River.
Stories disgree slightly on who specificly started the fire. But it was not Bill Agresta. Bill had left the contractors unattended breifly to attend to other work. In that brief window, a contractor with a gasoline-powered circular saw cut some metal. Sparks from the blade ignited the brush and the fire ran out of control quickly. I've been told that Bill had even warned this idiot against using a torch to make that cut of wonder-boy managed to spark the fire anyway.
Bill called 911. By the time the fire was subsiding 700 firefighters had swarmed the island and 4,000 residents were evacuated. The state of California says it cost over $2 million just to fight the fire. Poor Bill got both a full-body case of poison ivy from the burning brush and fractured ribs suffered from a paniced construction worker in a commandeered tractor. The best coverage was from the CGC, here.
That fire at the Catalina Island transmitter plant grew into a 4,750- acre wildfire. The largest city on the island, Avalon was so threatened that an evacuation was initiated. One home and six industrial buildings were lost but no one was seriously injured. The station resumed operations three days later via generator. The Catalina Island museum already has an exhibit. In my mind KBRT-AM already deserved one, they've been serving LA for 25 years. More here