Claremont Insider: Fire in the Bernard Field Station

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fire in the Bernard Field Station

Drudge Siren Pictures, Images and Photos
Just after lunch Sunday a fire erupted in the far southeast corner of the Field Station, adjacent to the corner of Foothill and Mills. By 1:30 p.m. the Fire Department appeared to have extinguished it. The Claremont Police Department closed Mills Avenue at Foothill for a time.

The fire appeared to burn only a small fraction of an acre, probably only a few hundred square yards.

Earlier Sunday morning there were a crew of people cutting down weeds on the east side of the Field Station. It is our strong suspicion--with no confirmation from the Fire Department--that this fire was not unrelated to that activity. There were several vehicles parked along the fence on dry grass and weeds--we hope it wasn't some of the BFF* of the Bernard Field Station-- and it is known that catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite dry brush.

We are not even sure that's the most likely cause; here's another possibility. The crew were using one of those super-sized rotary lawnmowers you see advertised on late-night TV, the kind that eats entire woodlots. Maybe it was just a regular rotary lawnmower. It is entirely possible that the steel blade from that machine hit a rock and threw a spark into the just-pulverized grass which then become the moral equivalent of tinder. This is the kind of fire that can smolder unnoticed until bursting into rather uncontrollable flame.

It will be interesting to find out who was doing the brush clearance, and what safety measures, if any, they were observing. We can hear it now: "Nothing could possibly go wrong... go wrong... go wrong... go wrong..."

It wouldn't surprise us if Community Services Director Scott Carroll, or Bulldozer-in-Chief Larry Wheaton had some hand in this, but perhaps we are being unfair to suggest it.

Then again, this was just before Commencement at Harvey Mudd. Everyone knows Harvey Mudd has no love for the Bernard Field Station and in fact plans to pave some land adjacent to it for--you won't be surprised--a parking lot. Here's the speculation: Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe runs over in her academic robes, sets fire to the Field Station, all while everyone is distracted with Commencement. This somehow makes the building of the parking lot easier. This scenario is a bit of a stretch, being arson and all, but some of the images are entertaining.

* * * * *
*Best Friends Forever. Get with it.