Letters – November 29, 2019

Photo courtesy of LACoFD

Grateful Support to our Firefighters

During the last two years, Topanga has been surrounded by fires: the Simi fire, three Palisades fires, the Getty fire, the Hidden Hills fire, the Calabasas fire, and Topanga’s own fires.

Our phones rang with advisories to consider voluntary evacuation. For days we watched tireless firefighters man hoses, shovels, ladders and the like to defend properties and gain containment of the Santa Ana wind-driven fires. So many selfless people sacrificing their normal daily lives, pushed back against exhaustion to help those of us in peril. 

When fire broke out in the 1200 block of North Topanga Canyon Blvd. on November 16, within minutes there were countless fire vehicles from County and City lined up along my and my neighbor’s fence lines. My block’s residents gathered on Oakwood Drive and stared, wide-eyed, as a line of firefighters started the trek up the hill with hoses, shovels, backpacks, etc. Helicopters flew overhead with a rotor wash that shook our houses. Finally, the fixed-wing water drops began.

Anyone would have to be proud while watching this well-oiled, fire-killing machine of men and women. The fire was out within an hour or so and only two or three fire trucks remained until approximately 9:30 p.m. This fire was truly too close for comfort. Honestly, I wanted to hug every one of them. Instead, I thought a better thing to do would be to remind all Topangans that we can show our support through donations at supportLAFD.org.

As some of the previous fires were winding down, Channel 5 KTLA News interviewed three firefighters who explained that, because they had been spread so thin for so long in so many locations, they were running out of supplies. Funding through normal channels would take too long but this is still a way to help.

I do believe our Station 69 firefighters and all firefighters are our modern-day heroes. They selflessly continue to protect us no matter the cost to themselves and their families. Now we have a chance to give back in a way that will help them continue to help us and show our appreciation. Beth Renee Davis

The Editor Responds 

The information from Davis and  KTLA is most welcome. All of those fire engines and their crews that responded to the Topanga Fire on November 16 are part of California’s Mutual Aid system that relies on local fire departments all over California, and sometimes from out of state, to answer the call when needed. LACoFD reports “there were nearly 4,000 firefighters working on the largest wildfire in California history, including a group who traveled over 8,000 miles [from New Zealand] to get here.” 

It should be noted that there is a jurisdictional difference between the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), which covers the City of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD), which provides firefighting and emergency medical services for unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County (including Topanga), as well as contracting with 59 cities. Station 69 and 269 (volunteer call firefighters) are part of LACoFD and right in the middle of our town where grateful residents can show their thanks to them any time of the year. Photo courtesy of LACoFD.


Dear Editor,

We are all thankful for the quick response that resulted in stopping a fire that could have had horrible results. The fire crews, both land and air support, did a wonderful job containing the fire.

Good to see our local paper reporting an event that clearly informs us of what happened on a Saturday afternoon in Topanga.


Al Kanigher

“…Nothing Like a Well Told Story”


On Thursday, Nov 14, MMN’s “History in the News” columnist, Jimmy P. Morgan, received a response to his column, “On the Porch,” (January 25, 2019, Messenger Mountain News, Vol. 3, No. 2), from Jonathan Delbruck, who wrote:

I so enjoyed your story about the jury experience, or perhaps it was about bullies, walls, money, guns…

My grandfather, Hans, was a history teacher; you might have heard of him. I never met him but my father Max, a scientist, told me many stories from ancient history, mostly from memory. I think he inherited this oral history practice from his parents and [I] have tried to continue the tradition with my children, something which has become more challenging in today’s world of digital distractions. Still, there is nothing like a well-told story.

Thank You. —Jonathan Delbruck


Morgan Replied:

Herr Delbruck,

No, I was not familiar with your grandfather, but I am now. To say that he and I are both “history teachers” is to say that the balsa wood, rubber-banded wind-up toy and the [Boeing] 747 are both airplanes. As to your father, the “science teacher,” I can only say that I do not often interact with the children of Nobel laureates. While I do not see any grand awards in my future, I am extremely pleased when someone reports that I have put to paper a “well-told story.” Thank you so much for taking the time to write and sharing such kind words.

—Jimmy P. Morgan

Morgan did further research on the Delbruck family and learned, “Jonathan’s father, Max, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1966. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Delbr%C3%BCck) His grandfather, Hans, is a rather prominent military historian who taught at the University of Berlin at the turn of the century (mentioned in discussions about Carl von Clausewitz who famously said, “War is a continuation of  ‘politics’ by other means.”) (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Delbr%C3%BCck


For more on his father, this link connects the three generations:



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