Usedcarsalesman has lived at the Toluca Hills Oakwood Apartment Complex in Toluca Lake, Ca. for 2.5 years now. Technically, it's supposed to be a "temporary-stay" residence, but Usedcarsalesman has encountered people who have lived here for 30 years.
You might ask, "How does one end up staying at this "temporary" residency for so many years, 2.5 or 30 or whatever?" Well, some familiar with the LA rental market know: landlords here can sometimes drag their feet forever when it comes to their responsibility for apartment repair/maintenance issues and upkeep of the common areas. With the "corporate," national-chain, Oakwood, however, management here takes care of repair/maintenance issues the same day and upkeep is typically outstanding. Thus, for some, sometimes a "temporary" Oakwood is the smart (if pricey) choice for long-term apartment rental in Los Angeles
The Toluca Hills Oakwood, though one of 200-some Oakwood Apartment complexes in the U.S., is noteworthy for a few reasons (mostly due to its location). Rick James lived (and died) here a few years ago. Nirvana stayed here when they were recording their Nevermind album. And, security always stays stringent in this mile-wide private berg situated next to Warner Bros studios, as though the next "Jessica Simpson"-type staying there has complained of too many aggressive reporters (The Archstone in Studio City, however, is starting to pick up some of the credibility as the cool "industry" residential spot to be [recent events may even exacerbate this trend a little]).
Now that you know a little about the Oakwood Toluca Hills, Usedcarsalesman will give you some of the details about the unusual events that occurred there today. This morning, your faithful blogger went to the parking lot and then heard a fire truck, sirens-blaring, roar on to the property. Usedcarsalesman figured it was maybe an older tenant having a heart-attack or somebody going in to insulin-shock and needing glucose. This had happened before. But, a fire? Come on?
Usedcarsalesman didn't think much of the fire truck, but then helicopters started to show up. The first one - high above, stationary like a hovering bumble-bee - appeared to be observing activity at an unseen, nearby point to the east. But, it was the second helicopter that made the real impression - it came in low like it was getting ready to strafe a target.
Usedcarsalesman stood on top of his Jeep to see if he could get a better view of what was going on as the second helicopter dove past. He was kind of expecting to see it probably descend below the tree-line and land in a large parking lot on the east-side of the complex, likely to fly-out a tenant needing emergency medical care. But, instead, Usedcarsalesman saw a huge potential hazard - a dark smoke cloud rising above the trees! Usedcarsalesman then saw the second helicopter fly eastward towards this cloud and open its underside doors to drop what must have been white flame-retardant powder.
Usedcarsalesman focused on the source of the smoke - huge flames now topping out high above the trees about a quarter mile east. "Whoa," said Usedcarsalesman, not expecting to see such massive flames this close to where he lived. He saw that this was getting serious and the surroundings didn't look safe versus the fire - "fields" of 20-some not exactly castle-walled apartments and a hillside of trees and dry brush. The day was clear and a wind seemed present, high even. It seemed as though the fire was moving downhill, westward towards the complex. One thing's for sure, firetrucks, crew, marshals, sheriff's deputies, the whole fire "works" had suddenly rolled on to the property and appeared to feel the same about the fire as Usedcarsalesman. Many were lugging hoses up to meet the hillside blaze, as if to check its progress towards the complex.
Police and Fire Fighters were already directing people away from the area. With the people taken care of, Usedcarsalesman started to get concerned about his personal property. His Jeep was in the line of the fire and he knew insurance wouldn't cover the investment he had in it, so Usedcarsalesman weaved it out of the Toluca Hills Oakwood, past fire hoses, trucks, and legions of gawkers and parked his ride in a safer location on the far side of Warner Bros. Studios. Now for his apartment - what possessions did he absolutely have to have? Surprisingly this was easier than it sounded, since he had already made the following list in case of the hypothetical earthquake or man-made disaster: grab hard-drive and discs, cell phone/charger, big hat, tooth brush, a few clothes/shoes/toiletries, Pint of Jack Daniels, Box of Reds (for trading with survivors :), the remainder of the Canada, and ungrounded espresso beans to chew in the mornings, etc. Then lock the doors and leave - don't talk, don't gawk, just go.
Unfortunately (kidding) though, at the end of the day, the helicopter drivers and brave L.A. fire fighters masterfully put out the blaze, so Usedcarsalesman was unable to take time off and host a survival party in Griffith Park with legions of surviving coeds. Anyway, next time, Valley Arsonists, inadvertent or otherwise, do a better job (also kidding)!
Note: Turns out a couple of teenage dudes had set this blaze off - accidentally or otherwise - with fireworks. This few bucks worth of fireworks destroyed 150-some square acres of forest in a relatively populated urban area in the Valley. What would happen if you had 5 or 6 bad-guys (read terrorists or criminals) invest a total of 50 bucks in matches and gasoline, work simultaneously and make a real concerted effort to set the Hollywood Hills/Griffith Park area ablaze at some point during the upcoming months? Frankly, if they timed things according to the weather forecast and the winds, they'd end up gutting probably several square miles of Los Angeles and essentially turning parts of the Valley and Hollywood in to parts of present-day New Orleans. Frankly, Usedcarsalesman think Los Angeles needs to take steps to safeguard the Toluca Hills, Griffith Park area, due to the threat its "easy-combustibility" may pose to neighboring residential areas