Celebrating 70 Years of KTTV: The 1982 Anaheim Fire

As we continue our KTTV commemoration of the biggest stories we've covered over the past 70 years we turn our attention to the wildfires. Hal Eisner remembers one fire in Orange County that changed building codes all over Southern California-- one that few there will ever forget.

Since 1949 KTTV has been in the news business. And, over the years while our look has changed our purpose has always stayed the same and that's to provide important information to our Southern California community.

In 1982, a fire ripped across a large four-block area of Anaheim.

Mitch Waldow was the first on the scene. At the time he was working for a local radio station. Now, he is our KTTV archivist. He recalls that fire and says, "It was so hot it was like Hell. It was like being in Haides. I had never covered a fire like this. I was a young reporter but I had never seen anything like this. You'd turn around - 360 - everywhere you looked everything's on fire. You're surrounded by fire."

The conflagration swallowed up apartment buildings displacing some 2000 people. About 1000 permanently lost their homes. Waldow says, It was the worst fire in Orange County history up to that time."

Bob Simpson, the Anaheim Fire Chief in '82 told KTTV, "You should not allow wood shingle roofs in a county with wind conditions like those we experienced this morning. Wood shingle roofs and high winds are not compatible."

Those words resonated with lawmakers and there was good to come from all of the bad this fire created.

Says Waldow, "It led to laws that changed the requirements for construction that you could not put wood shake roofs on a building in a fire area and statewide laws changed because of this particular fire."