The 2009 ALA Annual Conference  has not been affected by the recent series of wildfires blazing through the Los Angeles area in Southern California, according to a recent e-mail sent by the American Lighting Assn. to its concerned membership.
The Convention site, the brand new Terranea Resort — located on the cliffs of California’s Palos Verdes Peninsula — was not touched by the fires. One fire broke out a few miles away in the neighboring Rolling Hills area of Rancho Palos Verdes, but burned mostly through dry bush.
Conference Chair Stan Johnson, who lives a couple of miles from the resort, was close enough to see smoke billowing in the air and breathe in the hot fumes. No local lighting retailers were impacted by fire, and no homes in their immediate area had to be evacuated, Johnson reports.
“The hotel was not threatened at all. There was no evacuation in that area. In fact, [the resort] took in several families [from down the road] that were evacuated and put them up for free,” he says.
The resort even temporarily housed numerous doves and animals to protect them from fires. The fires closest to the resort area were actually put out about a week and a half ago, says Johnston.
According to the ALA e-mail to members, the LAX Airport was also not affected by the fires, which were sparked due to the hot, dry weather in the region. The first fire broke out in the Angeles National Forest, a popular weekend getaway for area hikers and backpackers, according to local news outlets.
Another fire, nicknamed the Station Fire, started near Angeles Crest Highway 2 and forced the mandatory evacuation of 500 homes in the La Canada/Flintridge area bordering the forest. The Rolling Hills area fire in Rancho Palos Verdes forced the evacuation of 1,000 people in the general area.
As of this report, the ongoing fires North of the Rancho Palos Verdes area appeared to be getting under control by fire department.
The flames were not the ALA’s most pressing concern, says Johnson. The shaky economy was. But with more than 425 attendees already registered to attend the conference — taking place Sept. 13-15 — he is confident that an upswing is on the horizon for lighting industry.
And the Terranea should provide a breathtaking backdrop for the networking, education and idea exchange that Conference always provides. “The property is absolutely beautiful,” Johnston says.