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Kids and matches caused big Dish fire

Original post made on Jul 10, 2007

Two juveniles playing with matches were responsible for starting the June 25 fire in the Stanford Dish area that burned 171 acres, according to the Stanford University Department of Public Safety.

Read the full story here Web Link

Comments (29)

Posted by oops...
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 10, 2007 at 6:57 pm

Keep an eye on your kids folks.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2007 at 7:24 pm

And what about the other one?

Posted by Safety and Security First
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 10, 2007 at 7:30 pm

Note: Security cameras are needed, EVERYWHERE, NOW - and I'm not kidding.

Stanford, will you lead the way?

Posted by oops...
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 10, 2007 at 7:33 pm

Keep it on the matches. :)

Posted by Geez
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 10, 2007 at 7:52 pm

Our civilization organized the monoliths at Stonehenge, built the Parthenon, built the Pantheon, painted the Lindesfairn Gospels, respected habeus corpus, navigated the Seven Seas in wooden vessels, painted the Sistine Chapel, authored The Tempest, composed the 9th Symphony, authored War and Peace, developed Jazz, and conceived of lightbulb, alternating current, and the solid-state transitor.

And we did all these things without security cameras.

Posted by Stanford Prof
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2007 at 9:56 pm

When the Parthenon was built, and Stonehenge was an"in" neighborhood, populations were small enough and connected enough for most citizens to know what was going on most of the time, and who was doing the 'goin on'. Crime happened, but perpetrators were more easily found out. Modern urban culture has bred extreme anonymity, thus the ciurrent sense that one can get away with anything. CCD cameras WORK! That's why the Brits are capturing terrorists, and others- including irresponsible teenagers let loose by their even more irresponsible parents. I certainly hope there will be more than a slap on the wrist for the brats that did this.

Posted by Freedom First
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 10, 2007 at 10:16 pm

Sorry "Safety & Security First", but if that's what you believe then you'd be a lot happier in Hilter's Germany or Stalin's Russia, where it was safe to walk the streets at night ... but only if you were the right sort, and thought correct thoughts. The great thing about America is that we put freedom first. I hope this fire scared the bajesus out of those kids and that they will be duly disciplined, but folks ... kids have been doing this stuff from time immemorial, and for the most part civilization has survived. My own father burned down a barn in 1926 when he was six years old. He later served in WWII and became a contributing member of society. Kids need to be watched, yes, but lordy this generation of kids is WAY more watched, controlled, and over-scheduled than my generation was. Give them a break.

Posted by Freedom First
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 10, 2007 at 10:27 pm

P.S. - I wonder how many readers know that if you use a lawn mower (push or riding) and it starts a fire, you are guilty of felony arson. That's what a man up in Shasta County was charged with, after a spark from his lawn mower started a wild fire.

I daresay quite a few upstanding residents of the hills are commiting this felony every day. So ... should we install security cameras on every utility pole so as to catch these evil-doers at work? Certainly they deserve more than a slap on the wrist eh?

Posted by CCD's forever
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 10, 2007 at 10:49 pm

Is Great Britain Stalin's Russia? Nope...

Does Great Britain have millions of CCD posted all over the place? Yup...

Posted by just having fun
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 11, 2007 at 6:34 am

I like the goal of omnipresence, ...we should shoot for no less than building the attributes of a major deity into our communications infrastructure.

But, those millions of ccds wouldn't have helped too much here ...unless we had loudspeakers attached to them! Then, the member of our Citizens Camera Brigade who spotted those kids could yell, "hey you kids, cut that out", before they struck that match.

Posted by Get a Grip
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 11, 2007 at 7:01 am

Typical Palo Alto banter. Why not bring Alma Plaza into the issue? Reminds one of the thread of someone asking what we all thought of the new stadium, and it became a debate over World cup soccer. Get back in your SUV, pump some gas and oppose the war over your precious oil fields in the mid east. Oh, and have a few more kids, they're good at playing with matches.

Posted by Momof4
a resident of Nixon School
on Jul 11, 2007 at 7:38 am

According to the article, these kids confessed to a parent who notified the authorities. Isn't that what we want, rather than spy cameras everywhere? They made a mistake, they owned up, and now most likely they will be punished. Um ... what more can we ask? Do the proponents of CCDs believe that a camera would've somehow notified authorities of the fire sooner? Possibly, but a system like that only works if every camera is being actively monitored all the time ... a pretty costly proposal. If we have cameras only to catch people after the fact so we can punish them, then again I submit a what I believe is a better proposal: teach children and everyone else to take responsibility for their mistakes.


Posted by Jill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 11, 2007 at 9:04 am

I think the Walgreens arsonist should go tell his/her mother.

Posted by Kids today
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 11, 2007 at 9:27 am

Notice that Kids today are much more aggressive and "winnng" is the only option?
Notice that Adults are much more aggressive and the TV blarres all day "in your face" attitude?
Notice that Kids today don't play in any of our streets, rather go on parent organized "play dates"?
And on and on. Now what's that got to do with MATCHES, CCTV CAMERAS, A GRASSFIRE etc.etc.
It's the quality of the kids that the previous generation has let loose in the community that now will be haunting us. It's the informal, loosely tied discipline that will haunt us for generations. CCTV oversight will not change the character of a kid playing with matches. It should be his internal "voice" telling the kid "what you're doind is wrong". Today we're talking matches. Awhile back we're talking bashing a guy youth in the East Bay. In Sunnyvale we're talking about gang raping a young drunk woman. Soon we'll be talking about a gun in one of our schools, a knife displayed in anger etc.
My point is; it's not the kids fault. It's the parents that haven't instilled the needed life skills that should avoid most of these events. Parents, you've done well by being nice, caving in, letting watch TV till 10pm ...and now the consequences.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2007 at 9:39 am

I think some of you have it wrong. A cctv camera would not have prevented the fire. A cctv camera, even in a society like the UK where they abound, probably wouldn't be placed somewhere like the Dish. However, cctv cameras work and the UK is having so much success with them that we must consider them.

To say that cctv cameras violate freedom is to say that any criminal behavior violates freedom. Of all the hours recorded (and recorded over), for the most part they are not watched. CCTV cameras are there not to prevent crime (except for the fact that they are there as a deterrant). No, the cameras are there to catch the perpetrators of a crime that is subsequently discovered and the relevant cameras are then checked by authorities. Most of what is recorded is never viewed again.

Most of us are being recorded every time we enter a bank, a government building, a chain store, etc. etc. We have cameras to catch speeders at intersections. There are many cctv cameras monitoring us all the time and we don't seem to complain. Why having more around and becoming more like the UK takes away freedoms I don't understand? The UK has had more terrorist attacks over the past 40 years than the USA and the average Briton is actually pleased with what the cctv cameras add to their freedoms. Yes, I said add. When the IRA was busy bombing targets all over the UK and people wanted to continue to go about their daily lives, knowing that the cameras were there actually made them feel safer, not restricted. The British never let the threats from the IRA prevent them from what they were doing and neither did CCTV. Every time there is a terrorist attack there now, the cameras are the best way of catching the culprits. Notice how quickly the authorities caught the last lot and they did it with cameras.

If you don't want CCTV cameras here, then it is because you do not realise the effect they have on solving crime, not preventing crime. If you wan't criminals caught, then you must look at CCTV in a realistic light. If you are living your life in a normal fashion, you have nothing to fear. But, if you are unfortunate to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when a crime or terrorist attack happens, wouldn't you be pleased to know that the authorities are able to look at where you were and what you were doing so that they knew it wasn't you but see the someone else who was doing it?

Never be afraid of CCTV cameras unless you have something to hide.

Posted by Norm
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2007 at 12:37 pm

I hope, as frequently has occurred in the past in other places, the bill for putting the fire out gets sent to the appropriate parents so they can demonstrate to their children the price, and costs, of responsibility. They kids may have to do without cell phones, cable TV, and video goodies until it's paid in full.

Posted by mr. consequence
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2007 at 1:27 pm

norm, I love ya!

btw, i talked to my kids about this today - they smiled knowingly and both said that they suspect that "playing with matches" would not have been an expected reason for teenagers to be in the hills. most likely it was a few teens experimenting with 'weed', or whatever, and things got out of hand.

better to confess to one mistake, than two, no?

Posted by Norm
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2007 at 5:19 pm

I lived for a short time up in Plumas National Forest area (currently dealing with a fire). I knew a guy who worked for the Forest Service who had a careless child. His share of a 5 way split from kids playing with matches was over $200K (1972), and the Feds (his boss!) sent him the bill. Embarrassing to say the least - very small town.

Posted by Jon
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 11, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Gosh, don't they still teach fire safety in schools? A complete failure of our education system. Someone ask our wonderful school board members about whether or not students are ever taught not to do stupid things like lighting ----- on fire in the most flammable place in the city...

let me echo this again: stupid kids

Posted by Freedom First
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 12, 2007 at 8:13 am

To "Resident",

You wrote:

"Never be afraid of CCTV cameras unless you have something to hide."

All I can say is wow, what dictatorship did you grow up in, and how did you pass your citizenship test for the U.S.? Have you ever read "1984"? Has anyone explained to you that this country was founded on the principal that a free citizenry MUST stand up against repressive governments? The guys behind the Boston Tea Party had "something to hide." Have you heard of the Boston Tea Party? The people who tried to save Jews in Germany by hiding them in their attics had "something to hide." Have you heard of the holocaust?

Frankly I'd rather take my chances with crazed match-wielding juveniles, than live in a society dominated by opinions such as you expressed.

Posted by mr. consequence
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2007 at 8:26 am

Freedom, Would you take your chances with nuclear-wielding terrorists? And would you feel the same way if your home was in a fire path?

Posted by Freedom First
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 12, 2007 at 9:06 am

My home is in a fire path (Palo Alto Hills) .

As for nuclear-wielding terrorists, we're already in deep doo-doo on that score. But not because we don't have enough CCDs. Unless CCDs were installed in every bedroom (a la 1984) I don't see how they could possibly detect a nuclear suitcase bomb before it deploys.

We're in deep doo-doo because we have borders that leak like sieves, nothing has been done in the last 6 years to secure our ports of entry, our leaders are doing everything possible to alienate the Muslim world and thus recruit for Al Caeda (see story today that good ole' AC is as strong today as it was on 9/11/01), and as Ike tried to warn us in 1959 there are powerful people in this country who get rich off conflict.

BTW, as to the efficacy of CCDs in Britain, here are a couple of points to consider. London is all-but closed to car traffic aside from taxis and busses. There is little to no on-street parking, for example. So a parked car immediately draws suspicion. How could that possibly work in the U.S.? Plus, London is Britain's only significant target. I don't believe there are enough CCDs in the universe to monitor all the major U.S. cities, shopping malls, and grassy parklands. Secondly, English society is more stuffy, rule-bound, suspicious, judgemental, and decidedly unwelcoming to outsiders than we are. This might help explain why they have so many home-grown bombers. Remember the Irish bombed them for many years as well.

Not to say we're not in for another "big one". But whatever we're in for, CCDs will not prevent it, just as CCDs would not have prevented 9/11.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2007 at 9:47 am


I do express your opinion, but I do not think you understood mine. CCTV cameras are not to prevent crime, except as general deterrants. No, CCTV is used primarily as a means of solving crime.

You have taken my post to the extreme. Yes, I do know what you are talking about. No, I have not taken a citizenship test for the US. What I do have is common sense. I know that every so called possible target cannot be adequately monitored. I know that there are times when things can fall through the net. But, I don't think you know much about Britain. London of course is the obvious target, but the airport that was a target was Glasgow in Scotland, and they had plenty of cameras there. Yes, there is more than one major city in Brtain. In fact, the feeling is that London is now so tight that it will probably not be the prime target so surveillance is carried out on all major UK cities. London is full of private cars, many people do live within the city and have their own cars, drive them around, and park in legitimate parking spaces. Many people do drive into the city at weekends when there is no extra charge.

Also, the British are not quite what you make them out to be. They do not and have not allowed laws to exist the same as here. For instance, you do not need the equivalent of a social security number to open bank accounts, get insurance, etc. You do not need to always carry a driving licence around with you all the time, in fact most don't. Yes, they are suspicious, but rightly so. Yes, the IRA have been bombing them for years and any Irish person in Britain accepted that they would get tougher screening as a result. See if that would wash here. You would get an uproar if people were screened more just because of their nationality.

So, please do not speak about what you do not know. And, please use some common sense.

Posted by Freedom First
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 12, 2007 at 11:20 am


I'll admit I exaggerated the differences between Britain and U.S.. The downtown London streets are not completely empty, but "relatively" empty compared to the typical U.S. city which is encrusted with cars: parked, double-parked, moving, stuck in traffic, cars everywhere in every possible state of motion and inhabitedness. Also, yes I exaggerated by implying that London was the only big U.K. target. Give me the number you think is correct, and the U.S. will be two orders of magnitude larger than that. The "common sense" of my argument still holds. There's a serious scaling problem here.

Important infrastructure in the U.S. is already instrumented. Dams, airports, etc. Not to mention virtually all retail establishments. Plus we caught the 9/11 criminals (or at least the poor schmucks who executed it) without CCDs. We haven't caught "Mr. Big" behind the attacks, but I doubt CCDs will help us there.

Basically CCDs in public spaces boil down to an expensive way to threaten our basic freedoms (assembly and free speech).

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2007 at 12:44 pm


I really do not see how CCTV threatens assembly and free speech. As I said before, it is only used to solve crime if it occurs. For assemblies the footage would only be viewed if a crime occurs and not if it remains sane and sensible.

There have been many occasions when an occasion of assembly gets out of hand and the majority of those present are being sane and sensible. If something untoward happens, the ability to view footage in the area would be used to apprehend the perpetrator(s), not to prevent the assembly.

Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 16, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Norm, just what I was going to post; the parents should be made to foot the bill. And how old were these kids? Obviously old enough to be playing wihtout supervision. What foolishness and stupidity! I hope they receive some sort of punishment, though I somehow doubt it.

And yes, this, as well as the Walgreen's fire, is a good argument for cameras.

Posted by penniepony
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 16, 2007 at 8:19 pm

Freedom First,

You have my full support.

Posted by Thomas
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2007 at 11:51 am

I'm sorry for being candid... but what kind of idiot lets kids light dried grass in a field of dry grass in the middle of summer!

Posted by chillin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 9, 2007 at 8:01 pm

dude I heard about this from the kids who started the fire. they werent playing with matches they were trying spark up a blunt (actually it was a b-legit) and the cherry fell off in the grass. luckily i think they relit the B, blazed it down to the roach and tossed that but by that time the cherry hella ignited the grass. they had some crazy humboldt bud so you know that b-legit was nothin but dank-ass chronic!

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