Fire Loss Huge in Lassen County; Many Blazes Rage
July 21, 1924
Four “donkey” logging engines, valued at $5,000 each; eight Southern Pacific flat cars used for logging purposes, valued at $3,000 each; one tank care owned by the Fruit Growers Supply company, valued at $2,000; approximately 20 miles of railroad track owned by the Fruit Growers’ Supply company and several sections of valuable timber have been destroyed during the last 24 hours by a forest fire which is beyond control in the timber of the fruit growers’ logging camps.
The fire started Monday afternoon in camp F and swept through millions of feet of pine timber. At a late hour today it has been estimated that the fire has eight miles more of solid timber to burn through before it can be blocked, despite the efforts of 575 men working constantly.
There is an arid area located eight miles north and northeast of the present location of the blaze, where the firefighters hope it eventually may be checked. The fighters are handicapped by a heavy breeze blowing at 30 miles an hour or more.
The logging railroad running into two of the fruit growers’ camps has been damaged to such an extent that it will have to be fully rebuilt. The ties which were projecting from the ground are entirely burned, while the large standard steel rails are curled beyond further use. The loss of suck trackage further handicaps the fighters, as had this railroad been saved it would have allowed immediate logging, as much of the timber in the path of the flames could have been immediately felled and hauled to the mills for cutting and avoid a total loss.
The Red River Lumber company of Westwood sent 110 firefighters to the scene of the blaze. Sixty additional men were equipped at the Lassen Lumber and Box company’s logging camp and were sent out tonight.
Another reserve of men is being sent from the plant at Susanville where 400 men are employed and its production at this end probably will be curtailed until the fire at the logging camps is entirely under control.
No damage was done to the Southern Pacific tracks, as the fire is several miles north in the woods, but the equipment which was destroyed was the property of the Southern Pacific and was being loaded with logs on the fruit growers’ siding.
The donkey logging engines are beyond repair.
The firefighters are fighting the blaze with shovels by throwing dirt on the fire, but the flames were making rapid progress through the timber at a northeasterly angle and has several miles to burn before firefighters can get in front of it to assure at least temporary control.
Three shifts of men are still being kept in the fire area, which threatened to destroy Susanville yesterday, and foremen in charge anticipated full control tonight. A strong breeze has stirred the ashes but there is very little left to burn in this vicinity, as the timber and shrubbery have been entirely wiped out.
Patients at the county hospital were returned there today after being driven out Monday by the flames. The county hospital and other county buildings were in the midst of the flames for three hours, but no great damage was done, the flames being confined to the treetops and shrubbery.
Miss Anna Stewart, who was confined to her home with typhoid fever, was taken from her home, when the yard was wrapped in flames, but has suffered no ill effects from the scare and is resting easily in the Riverside hospital. Her home was saved.
Residents believe this fire has destroyed all shrubbery and brush in a dangerous territory and assures safety for the future, as the shortage of water and equipment proved to be a handicap to the entire community during the progress of yesterday’s fire.
A small stack of hay west of the Ramsey ranch and located near the fire was totally destroyed late last night. The fire was due to combustion.