Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Remembering the Inaja Fire
58 years ago, 11 fire fighters lost their lives on the Inaja Fire on the Cleveland National Forest. Their loss is not forgotten and many good things have come out of this tragedy to improve the safety of Wildland Firefighters.
Forest Service Firefighters
Albert W. Anderson, 45 years, Night Sector Boss (FS employee, SHF)
Carlton Ray Lingo, 19 years, Night Crew Boss (FS employee,CNF)
Forrest B. Maxwell, 30 years (FS employee, SHF)
Firefighters from Viejas Honor Camp and their CDF Supervisor:
LeRoy Wehrung, 41 years (CDF employee, Correctional Officer from Viejas Honor Camp)
Miles Daniels, 33 years
William D. Fallin, 22 years
George A. Garcia, 41 years
Virgil L Hamilton, 26 years
Joseph P. O’Hara, 45 years
Lonnie L. Shepherd, 26 years
Joe Tibbitts, 34 year
Eleven men lost their lives in a fire blow-up in San Diego Canyon on the Inaja fire, Cleveland National Forest, at 8:05 PM, Sunday, November 25, 1956. A 13 person inmate crew from from Viejas Honor Camp, their correctional officer, and 4 FS firefighters were cutting indirect line in the steep canyon west of Julian CA. Upslope winds increased in the evening when the Santa Ana winds ceased. Fire hooked under the men before they could reach safety at the top of a steep chimney. One Forest Service employee and six inmates escaped uninjured. However fire flashed over in an uphill run and 7 inmates, their correctional officer and 3 FS Firefighters died.
About the fire, from the report: Before being controlled at 6:00 pm, November 28, the fire burned 43,611 acres within the Cleveland National Forest and adjoining land protected by the State and burned at least 5 homes. More than 2,000 men fought the fire, 1,300 under Forest Service supervision. These included 500 Indians (local and Southwestern Region), about 500 Navy personnel, 200 inmates from San Diego County and State Honor Camps, and other organized crews. These men plus 3 helicopters, 4 air tanker planes, 2 scouting planes, 27 bulldozers, and a fleet of 90 stake, tank, and pickup trucks, formed one of the greatest arrays of men and equipment ever assembled to fight a forest fire in San Diego County.
From this incident came the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders 1957.