Laguna Hotshot Camp Weather

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Never Forget

Incident Name:  Rattlesnake Fire on the Mendocino National Forest
Date: July 9, 1953
Personnel: New Tribes Mission Firefighting Crew, Fouts Springs, CA; 2 Forest Service employees: 15 lives lost
Agency/Organization: US Forest Service
Position: Firefighters
Robert Powers, 35, married two children, FS employee
Ray Sherman, 19, married, no children
Stan Whitehouse, 30, married, four children
Stan Vote, 24, single, FS employee
Darrel Noah, 31, married, four children
Bob Mieden, 35 married, two children
Paul Gilford, 32, single
Benny Dinnel, 27, single
Harold Griffis, 37, married, seven children
Dave Johnson, 27, married, two children
Howard Rowe, 25, married, two children
Sergio Calles, 40, married, no children
Cecil Hitchcock, 20, single
Dan Short, 20, single
Allan Boddy, 30, marriage status not given
The Rattlesnake Fire, an arson fire, was started about 1430 hrs on July 9, 1953 on the Mendocino National Forest, approximately 28 mi NW of Willows CA. It was discovered along Alder Springs Rd. near Oleta Point and reported to Willows Dispatch. At 1900 hrs about 100 people were fighting the fire and the wind was blowing about 15 mph out of the SE. Just before 2200 hrs the wind quieted but then quickly changed direction, lighting spotfires. The fire jumped the lines and overran firefighters. Nine raced uphill to safety. Fifteen retreated downhill and died. The tragedy stimulated the Forest Service to increase firefighter training and research on fire hazard management.

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