Ranger Headquarters

Ranger Headquarters
Big Pine National Forest, Knotty Pine

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fire and Flood - Pendleton Valley Fire

I have mentioned the very first Ranger Bill story from 1950 before, The Pendleton Valley Fire. But I would like to mention it again, if you don't mind.
As you may know, the Pendleton Valley fire begins with Colonel Anders in charge, not Ranger Bill Jefferson. Anyway, the fire breaks out and the Colonel and his crew of men have a tough fight to control the valley fire. This is one big fire! The Colonel doesn't know if they get the fire under control or not. Then Colonel Anders sends a message to Bill to head into the hill country above the fire.
By the way, Bill gets the call at his outpost cabin in the forest, not at Ranger Headquarters in Knotty Pine. It isn't clear in that first episode if Colonel Anders has his headquarters in Knotty Pine or somewhere else. But Bill and Henry don't appear to be at Ranger HQ in Knotty Pine in that first show. But I digress. Back to the story.
The colonel sends Bill into the back country to Pine Ridge Dam. I'm not absolutely sure, but I believe that the dam is an earthen one. Bill and Henry ride Bess and Maude up to Pine Ridge. Bill sprains an ankle when he gets his foot caught under a tree root. Then an rattler almost bites him while he is sleeping. The boys eventually get orders in the middle of the night to dynamite the dam and flood the fire. With some difficulty, Henry places the dynamite. They blow the dam and the rush of water does put out the forest fire.
I loved the story but I doubted that the water flow from any mountain reservoir could be big enough to put out a forest fire. Then I found out that someone I know used to live in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, site of the 1889 Johnstown Flood, one of the worst natural disasters in US history. This person said that an earthen dam 14 miles upstream from Johnstown broke during a heavy rain, sending 20 million tons of water down the river valley. The wall of rushing water was thirty to fifty feet high when it struck Johnstown. Four towns were destroyed, including Johnstown, and 2209 lives were lost. If that can happen to Johnstown, then it's no stretch of the imagination to believe that Pine Ridge Dam could take care of the Pendleton Valley fire.

No comments: