Ecological Archives A019-004-A1

Jon E. Keeley and Paul H. Zedler. 2009. Large, high-intensity fire events in southern California shrublands: debunking the fine-grain age patch model. Ecological Applications 19:69–94.

Appendix A. Transcripts of newspaper articles or book sections describing large, high intensity fires from the 19th century in California counties from Santa Barbara south. Many reports of smaller fires are not included.

[1] ~1823. Richard Henry Dana [in “Two years before the mast”] records a great fire which swept the mountains adjacent to the pueblo of Santa Barbara about 1823. According to information furnished Dana by local residents, the heat generated by this fire was so great that the entire population was forced to leave the town and camp for several days on the beach. Wild land fires ringed the same town in October, 1869, and again in October, 1871, destroying orchards and structural improvements… [Brown 1945, p. 130]

[2] 1874. September 29. – When the Julian Stage arrived (in San Diego ) this evening it reported extensive forest fires raging in the canyon between Sweetwater and Vallevista, Riverside County . The settlers were all out fighting fire. The line of fire was nearly a mile long with a strong east wind. [San Francisco Chronicle, September 30, 1874; in Barrett 1935, p. 54]

[3] 1877. June 12. A fire has been raging for three days in the Cahuenga Canyon about fourteen miles from Los Angeles near Monte Vista …. It is said two or three houses burned and lots of have fallen prey to the flames, 200 stands of bees have been destroyed… The extent of the fire is between eight and ten miles and it is still raging. The settlers have been making an ineffectual fight against the fires since Saturday… [San Francisco Examiner, June 13, 1877 ; from Barrett 1935, p. 55]

[4] 1878. Fires Be Country. The Brush Of San Fernando Valley And Mountains In A Blaze – More Serious Conflagration Near Sierra Madre. The super-heated atmosphere which prevailed hereabouts yesterday is generally attributed to the fires which were raging in the brush and trees of the San Fernando mountains and possible in some of the grain fields in the valley on the north, and also to some extensive fires which appeared up the valley to the east. A long dark angry looking cloud rising along the northwestern horizon which could be seen from the more elevated portions of town yesterday afternoon, betokened the locality where flames were at work. When the sun set it looked like a blood red ball, glaring through the smoke, - just of the peculiar shade which all have marked in observing the orb through smoked glass, on the occasion of an eclipse. Some of our citizens distinguished cinders floating in the air which they thought seemed to be the remnants of burned straw. Information received from San Fernando yesterday is to the effect that, about 2 o’clock Monday afternoon, the brush near the ranch of Lankershim & Van Nuys was discovered to be on fire. All the hands on the ranch and neighbors in the vicinity, numbering a party of seventy or more, turned out to fight the fire and succeeded in turning it away from the ranch. One report received yesterday was that the fields and barns of Lankershim & Van Nuys had all been consumed, and that the flames were sweeping the valley. The loss of Messrs. J. H. Kester & Co. was reported to reach $25,000 or $30,000, all their grain still remaining in the fields being burned. [The Evening Express, Los Angeles, September 11, 1878]

[5] 1878 These reports of damage are at fault in the main, as will be seen by the following special telegram which we receive by Western Union Line this afternoon: SAN FERNANDO, Sept. 11. A fire originated in the brush near the little Tejunga Cañon on the 9th instant, at about ten o’clock A.M., and was soon beyond control. Up to the present time ( two o’clock P.M. ) it has burned over an area of about eighteen thousand acres, mostly brush, and is still burning, doing but little damage. Those who have sustained loss thus far are Maclay & Moflitt, who lose $300 worth of lumber, and John Loop $100 injury to bees. The latest from Kester & Co. is that their loss is small; that a portion of their grain fled that was burned over was almost worthless. No further damage is anticipated. [The Evening Express, Los Angeles, September 11, 1878]

[6] 1878. The San Fernando Brush Fire. SAN FERNANDO, Sept. 11.---A fire originated in the brush near the little Tejunga Cañon on the 9th instant, at about ten o’clock A.M., and was soon beyond control. Up to the present time ( two o’clock P.M. ) it has burned over an area of about eighteen thousand acres, mostly brush, and is still burning, doing but little damage. Those who have sustained loss thus far are Maclay & Moflitt, who lose $300 worth of lumber, and John Loop $100 injury to bees. The latest from Kester & Co. is that their loss is small; that a portion of their grain fled that was burned over was almost worthless. No further damage is anticipated. [The Daily Herald, Los Angeles, September 12, 1878]

[7] 1878. Sierra Madre In A Blaze. The people of this city who last evening cast their eyes in the direction of Pasadena, beheld the reflection of a lurid blaze lighting up the sky over toward the Sierra Madre. We have just seen Mr. Ena Brenner, who had a bee ranch on the land adjoining the site of the Hamilton hotel, which was destroyed by fire about two months ago. Mr. Brenner informs us that the fire was started by Dr. Edwards, who lives three miles back of Pasadena . He wished to get rid of a lot of brush, and set it on fire – a most reprehensible act for a man to commit at a time when the foliage all over the country is as dry as tinder. As soon as the brush was ignited the blaze traveled like wildfire, consuming everything in its way. In a short time it whiened [sic] out and swept along in a swathe of flame two miles broad, taking a southeasterly direction. It soon enveloped Mr. Brenner’s bee ranch, burned his house and contents, a tent, 200 stands of bees, and destroyed about two and a quarter tons of honey. Everything on Mr. Brenner’s place was reduced to cinders, and his losses will foot up not far from $2,000. the fire since then has hugged the mountain, traveling in the direction of the range easterly. When Mr. Benner came away, he says one tongue of flame was moving toward the Sierra Madre Villa, and should the wind continue blowing from the same direction the Villa would be in great danger. He says nobody can face the heat, it is so intense, and this morning a party who tried to control the cause of the fire found it impossible to live within sixty yards of it. Another fire is raging in the San Gabriel and Cucamongo mountains, but we have no report from there. [The Evening Express, Los Angeles, September 11, 1878]

[8] 1878. Fires in the San Gabriel Mountains. Burning a Brush Heap Productive of Great Damage – The End Not Yet. Yesterday evening and the night before a tongue of fire could be seen licking its way up the San Gabriel mountains . From an optical stand point the fire was a perfect realization of the words of the song “So near and yet so far.” The scene of the conflagration seemed not to be over a mile distant, while it was, in fact, nearer twenty miles. As a spectacle it was a superb success. The mountains more nearly resembled San Francisco, lit up by gas, as seen by the passenger from Oakland after nightfall, than anything we can recall just now. It originated on Dr. Edward’s place, which is on the San Pascual ranch, about 3 miles from Pasadena . He had cleared some thirty acres of brush and thoughtlessly set fire to it. The flames, owing to the vegetation being in a tinder state, spread with incredible rapidity. Upwards of a thousand acres of Mr. Craig’s land were burned over. The fire extended to Judge Eaton’s place, which the Judge has leased, burning the fence and doing other damage to his tenant. At least five cañons have been desolated by the flames, doubtless involving considerable loss to our bee interests. The flames fortunately were averted this side of the Sierra Madre Villa, at least so our latest advices assure us. We have no fear of the Villa itself being attacked by the flames because the lands adjoining it on every side are under a high state of cultivation, with fresh and green vegetation, in rows, on every side. The flames were higher, and the heat more intense, night before last than last night, which fact leads us to hope that their progress has been arrested. Mr. Ena Brenner’s place, including his apiary of 200 stands of bees, has been reduced to ashes, involving a loss to that gentleman of fully $2,000. Doubtless other details of loss and disaster will reach the city to-day. [The Daily Herald, Los Angeles, September 12, 1878]

[9] 1878. The San Fernando Valley Fire. The fire which was raging on Messrs Lankershim and Kester’s ranch, in the San Fernando valley, a partial account of which was published in yesterday’s HERALD, we learn from Mr. A. J. Norton, who came into the city yesterday, was fortunately checked by Mr. Kester before it did any serious damage. Two or three thousand acres of wheat, which was not worth cutting, was burned, but, before the fire could reach the wheat which was in sacks, Mr. Kester, with a force of about fifty men, burned and ploughed a circle around the grain, machinery and stock, thus saving them from the flames. It is impossible at present to estimate the damage done, which is principally in the destruction of sheep feed. From the manner in which the fire started it is evident that it was the work of an incendiary, who lighted fires in three of four places on the Encino ranch, which adjoins the ranch of Messrs Lankershim and Kester, on Monday afternoon. It reached the ranch of the latter gentlemen the next afternoon, and had it not been for the energy of Mr. Kester and the industry and good will exhibited by his harvest hands, who worked without cessation until the danger was averted, everything on the place – houses, stock, machinery and grain – would have been destroyed. As it is the damage is heavy enough, but slight compared to what it might have been. [The Daily Herald, Los Angeles, September 12, 1878]

[10] 1878. The fires in the San Gabriel range seemed last night to have subsided as they were not nearly so bright as the night before. Those on the Cahuenga, however, must have been burning intensely at 10 o’clock P.M. as the sky in that direction presented a very lurid appearance. [The Daily Herald, Los Angeles, September 13, 1878]

[11] 1879. October 28. – One of the greatest conflagrations “ever known to the oldest inhabitants, from 40 to 50 square miles of territory burned over” in the vicinity of Sweetwater Valley in San Diego County … [Monthly Weather Review, 7:14 ]

[12] 1881. Destructive Mountain Fires in Mission Canyon , Santa Barbara. SANTA BARBARA , Oct. 17. – A mountain fire last night swept down Mission canyon, destroying several dwellings, a school house and much miscellaneous property. The loss will probably aggregate $10,000. Dr. S.B.B. Knox, R.J. Crump, A. L. Canfield and Clark are the heaviest losers. Another fire during the night destroyed the barn of G.H. Pondola, loss about $700. A heavy north wind prevailed. [Los Angeles Daily Times, October 18, 1883]

[13] 1881. September 19. – For the last two or three days extensive brush fires have been burning over the mountains 30 or 40 miles east of San Diego . [San Francisco Bulletin, September 19, 1881 ; in Barrett 1935, p. 67]

[14] 1887. San Diego . At least one-third of the land covered with brush, grass and oak timber in the southern part of this County has been burnt off by settlers within the past eighteen months, doing a great deal of damage, not only as regards pasturage, timber, and bees, but also decreasing the reservoirs of water, which the absence of brush will effect, to a certain extent, the same as timber. These fires are caused by careless settlers, who at the time only intend to burn a few acres of brush, but everything being very dry at the time the fire soon gets out of their control, and the result is the fire takes everything before it. I have seen these fires spread five miles square in a few days… [2nd Biennial Report, California State Board of Forestry 88, p. 22; in Barrett 1935, p. 84]

[15] 1889. Devouring Flames. Large Fires Laging in the Vicinity of Santa Barbara . SANTA BARBARA , July 27. The fire which has been burning in the mountains has burned over the foothills and destroyed Sherman & Elan’s slaughter house and a large bridge built last year, also another house. The temperature has been 100o here today. At 12:16 am parties arriving from Summerland report one store and two dwellings burned, and others in imminent danger. It is also reported that Mrs. Old and two children are missing The fire is now raging from Rincon toward Carpenteria. [Los Angeles Daily Times, July 28, 1889]

[16] 1889. Fire and Wind. A Furnace Blast Comes From the North. It is Accompanied by Mountain Fires Which do Damage to the Extent of $60,000. Early Saturday forenoon fires were discovered on the mountains. Fanned by the breeze they spread rapidly and soon ran down the mountain sides. They overran the foothills leaving nothing but the blackened ground. Immense volumes of smoke rolled skyward, or caught by the wind, was driven forward overshadowing the city as with heavy clouds. Fed by the abundance of dry vegetation the fire steadily and rapidly made progress…. But fire was not all our city had to contend with. During the afternoon the wind veered to the north and came to us hot and dry. It steadily increased in violence till it became a gale….Eucalyptus Hill was overrun by the flames and full half the trees are destroyed. The big plot of pampus grasses in front of Mr. Packard’s house was burned and their flames nearly caused the burning of both Mr. Packard’s and Mr. Vances’s houses. It was a close call for them. The road to Montecito looks desolate, and the ground, so blackened, gives one the blues.

Incidents and Losses. Adjoining the Kimberley and Mesick ranches is one of 500 acres called the Loma Ranch. It is owned by Mr. J.N. Hiller a well-known capitalist of this city. A heavy growth of oaks and other trees was on this ranch, also a fifteen acre vineyard and an orange orchard. There were fully 60 cords of wood cut and piled, a quantity of hay, 13 horses, 5 buildings, tools farm implements, wagons, etc. Today the oaks are gone, with the houses and vineyards and not over two acres escaped being over run by the fire…Capt. Tollis adjoins Mr. Hilton. This gentleman lost his nice house with all his furniture. The loss will amount to fully $14,000. Mr. Kimberley also adjoins Mr. hiller. He lost his house and all in it. Loss very heavy. Mr. Humphreys lost his house and barn with tools, &c. …[numerous other losses of homes recorded]. The fire from the mountains caused but little apprehension till late in the day or early evening. But as the evening wore on its progress became more marked. No man not a witness can conceive its terrible rapidity. Now it is a mile away. In a moment with a gigantic leap it was all around you. The great mass of flames seemed a full 59 feet high and was all aglow like liquid fire. The mountain fire is what destroyed the properties of Messrs. Hiller, Taber & Price, Capt. Tollis, Kimberley and Humphries. Most of these losses occurred near midnight of Saturday. We have saidn above that the losses in buildings, wagons, farm implements, horses, hay and wood will aggregate $60,000. But now it seems as if even these great figures would be too small. One gentleman places the loss at full $75,000; others even go beyond that figure. It surely is very large yet it seemed at one time likely to be far larger. Had the wind continued to blow longer in that direction, San Ysidro ranch with its wealth of orange trees would have felt its fiery breath and not a tree on the place would have been left standing. Mr. Johnston should congratulate himself on his fortune. Mountain fires have been experienced in our vicinity often before. At very rare intervals hot winds from the desert have been experienced. In 1877 a fire swept through Mission canon and ran along the foothills down to Garden Street . Some loss was then inflicted of course. But this fire and this hot simoom [sundowner wind] in magnitude of losses far exceeds anything of the kind coming to our city. W[2-3 words unreadable] misfortune the city is fortunate that it was no worse. No human life was lost and that is good. On the Hiller ranch enormous numbers of squirrels, snakes, rabbits and foxes are found roasted. … The hot winds such as we experienced on Saturday are partly largely---caused by the desert. They usually come from northward and their characteristics are about the same as we have notice in last Saturday’s. While far from being common, we may look for them at this season of the year. They sometimes come in the night and are rarely of much severity. It has been said that the fire which swept over the Ortega ranch and Summerland was caused from a native’s burning brush. The fire from over the mountains we cannot know at this writing how it originated. It may have come from campers who thoughtlessly left fire burning which should have been carefully put out, or it may have been purposely started. In the first case campers should exercise the utmost care and never leave a chance for it to rekindle or spread. But if it were caused by persons intentionally then the matter should be brought before the notice of the courts (we have a State law covering such offenses) and the entire penalty of the law meted out. Such a grave crime endangering not only property but the lives of hundreds should be rigorously punished. [The Daily Independent, Santa Barbara , July 29, 1889]

[17] 1889. Fire Near Anaheim . ANAHEIM . July 27. Fire on the Olinda ranch, north of Anaheim, last evening swept over a vast amount of territory. [Los Angeles Daily Times, July 28, 1889]

[18] 1889. San Diego County . August 15. Yesterday morning a fire started in Cajon Valley from a point on the Cayuma railroad near Cowles station and burned over a strip of country 10 miles long and ranging from ½ to 1 miles in width The fire burned very rapidly… [San Francisco Examiner, August 16, 1889; in Barrett 1935, p. 92]

[This 1889 fire storm began on Tuesday 24 September and burned through the week]


[19] 1889. The Temperature. Speculation on the Weather as to Cause and Effect. Interior Fires May Not Affect the Mercury, But Ranch Property Has Been Greatly Damaged by Them. . Considerable speculation has been indulged in during the week as to cause and effect in relation to the prevailing abnormal temperature in the city which has been accompanied by an unusual sultriness. Whether the mercury has been higher by reason of the fires at the interior points not far from the city, or the warm spell came along in the natural course of events and aided the flames in their work of destruction, is a question undecided, and one that the weather clerk has not determined specifically. Be that as it may, it is undeniable that the weather has been a degree or so warmer, and reports come in that fires were quite destructive to ranch property. It was learned this morning by a settler from Lawson valley that these fires have originated from heaps of burning brush where settlers have been clearing off lands, and an immense area has been swept by the flames. In Lee’s valley directly north of Jamul, and southwest of Lawson valley, at least 10,000 acres have burned over, a dwelling house consumed and other property destroyed. This was owned by Uri Hill of El Cajon. Two fires, one started in the direction of Lawson valley and the other coming from the southwest, met on the mountain and finally died down from want of further combustible material. By this fire Mr. Strong, who lives in Lawson valley, lost 600 stands of bees, another rancher had a wagon and span of horses burned, and several cabins went up in smoke. [The Daily San Diegan, San Diego , September 20, 1889]

[20] 1889. Pursued By Flames. SAN DIEGO , Sept. 23. – The fire which has been raging in the Jamul Valley during the week has destroyed houses, barns and grain to the amount of $8,000 or $10,000. H.Q. Jerauld, Thomas Ritchie and three children were overtaken by flames while driving across the valley. They escaped through the fire without serious injuries, but their horses were burned to death. [Riverside Daily Press And Tribune, September 23, 1889]

[21] 1889. San Bernardino County . September 24. There was a north wind all day and early this morning a fire broke out in the mountains north of here ( San Bernardino ) which has been raging all day and tonight. This great valley is lighted by its reflection. The fire is in Waterman Canyon and is likely to do some damage. [San Francisco Examiner, September 25, 1889 ; in Barrett 1935, p. 102]

[22] 1889. By Telegraph. Mountain Fires! Fires Near Santa Ana . LOS ANGELES, Sept. 25. – A special to the Tribune from Santa Ana says the mountains for about twenty miles east of that city were on fire last night. The fire originated in Santiago cañon, in a sheepherder’s camp, and as the wind was blowing a perfect gale from off the desert the mountains were soon red with the angry flames. About 50,000 sacks of barley, threshed and unthreshed, on the San Joaquin ranch, invites the flames from the surrounding hilltops. Tom Owens, who has several thousand sacks of barley near the foothills, had an insurance policy of $5000 on his grain. The policy expired today, and the company’s agent refused to renew the risk. The probabilities are that he will lose the entire crop. Several hundred cattle in the Upper Santiago are dead and dying from the effects of the heat and smoke. The old San Joaquin ranch and all outbuildings were in momentary danger when the shift of the wind sent the crackling flames to the north and east of all improvements. So far, $10,000 will not cover the damage done to the pasture alone, and the probabilities are now that thousands of sacks of grain on the San Joaquin ranch will be consumed. Most of the afternoon and evening the fire confined itself to the mountainside, but later a change of wind sent the flames out to the stable of the Rawson ranch, thirteen miles south of Santa Ana, and at last reports great damage to the crops east and south of El Toro is being done. The views from the housetops was a grand one. Never before have the people here witnessed such a natural pyrotechnic display. Looking eastward the entire heavens is one bright-red glare. Citizens in the entire valley are thoroughly aroused, and all are doing all they can to protect their property. [Riverside Daily Press and Tribune, September 25, 1889]

[23] 1889. Fire near Santa Ana . It is believed that Three Thousand Sheep Perished in the Flames. SANTA ANA, Sept. 24 – A fire started in the grass on the foot-hills near the town of Elmodens to-day. A violent wind-storm was raging at the time, and the flames spread with alarming rapidity. On San Joaquin ranch a band of sheep, numbering 3,000, were overtaken by the fire, and it is thought that all perished. [The San Diego Union, September 25, 1889]

[24] 1889. Destructive Forest Fires. SANTA ANA, Sept. 24. – [Correspondence of The Times.] Today has been most disagreeable, the wind blowing a hurricane, and the blinding dust and heat next to intolerable. News is received that a huge forest fire is raging in the vicinity of Santiago Canon, and that its progress, if not checked, will certainly end in great disaster to Modena [3 words indecipherable] and orchards in its path. To the northwest of the city may now be seen large volumes of what is supposed to be smoke and dust, certainly the latter, and to judge from the intense heat and stifling atmospheric condition a fire must be raging in the neighborhood of the mountains overlooking the canon referred to. The direction of the windstorm is southeast, and, should the conflagration be as located, the loss to property lying in the path to the ocean would be immense. The San Joaquin ranch, with its thousands of tons of grain and hay, would surely furnish food for the flames, as would numerous small holdings in the vicinity. [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 25, 1889]

[25] 1889. Local News. The mountain fires yesterday were reported quite numerous in both cañons the fire was raging furiously. The flames consumed the barn and outhouses of John Marshall, and it was with great difficulty that the dwelling house was saved. At 9 o’clock last evening it is reported that the fire was within four miles of San Bernardino, and fears were entertained that if there was a north wind today that the fire would reach the outskirts of that city. Forest fires in the mountains east of Santa Ana raged all day, and last night the light reflected upon the sky from the fire in that direction was plainly seen in this city. [Riverside Daily Press and Tribune, September 25, 1889]

[26] 1889. Yesterday morning about 8 o’clock a stiff breeze sprung up from the east, and before long developed into a regular “ Santa Ana .” Early in the day great clouds of smoke were seen to rise over the foothills in several places and spread with wonderful rapidity. Before the middle of the afternoon the fires had spread to a distance of fully fifteen miles. At night large fires were seen in many places on the hills, and the glow arising from the canyons showed that great fires were raging in them. The flames in many places spread with alarming rapidity, and some of the residents of the canyons escaped with difficulty. Mr. Chas. Baker, who was up at his bee ranch in the Santiago canyon, had great difficulty in saving his buildings and bees, and when he arrived here in the evening showed evidences of having had a very rough experience. His clothes were in tatters, his horses were badly scorched, and several spokes were burned from a wheel of his wagon. At one time he narrowly escaped-suffocation. He believes that a number of cattle and sheep have fallen victims to the flames. A large number of men are engaged in fighting the fire to prevent them reaching the grain fields of the San Joaquin ranch, and they have so far been successful by the use of a large number of horses and plows in turning under the inflammable growth and by spreading wet sacks in the course of the flames. It is reported that twenty-five head of cattle and one hundred sheep have perished in one locality. G.B. Bixby has lost a lot of firewood and his fences are much damaged, but his stock is all safe. A number of gentleman rode up on the hills last night where they could look down on the fires on both sides of them, and they say the sight was grand. The flames would advance and recede like the surf on the shore, and it progressed before the wind at the rate of about a mile in thirty minutes. The breeze was comparatively light at this time. The past night has been calm, but this morning a stiff breeze is blowing and the smoke is increasing, showing that the fires are spreading. We are told that the beautiful Santiago Canyon picnic grounds are burnt over. It is impossible at present to arrive at any estimate of the damage done, but it must be large. Wednesday evening. --- The fires has spent its force. The blaze this evening is mostly confined to the hills beyond Mr. Bixby’s house. Robert Hall, apiarist, has been a very heavy loser; one of his places has been completely denuded of buildings and hives. Mr. Chas. Baker loses some empty hives and a quantity of lath fencing. [The Orange News, September 25, 1889]

[27] 1889. Due to a Santa Ana and a Field Fire. The heat yesterday was caused by a hot wind or “ Santa Ana,” in the Santa Ana Valley, and a big fire that was raging in the fields in that section all day yesterday. The passengers on the San Diego train who came in yesterday say the fire was raging on both sides of the track, and they thought they would be smothered before they got through the burning district. The fires was still raging last night, and the chances are that hot days will be in order the rest of this week. It is impossible to estimate the damage done at the time. The Board of Supervisors, who were out inspecting roads…were driving quietly along in a large six-seated carriage, when all of a sudden a regular old Santa Ana struck them amidship… The sandstorm seemed to be going at the rate of 50 miles per minute, and the sand was so thick that the board had to turn back. It is said to have been the heaviest sandstorm that has struck the valley for some years. The wind was so hot that people who passed through it had to cover their faces… [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 25, 1889]

[28] 1889. FIGHTING FLAMES. Great Fires Raging Around Santa Ana. The San Joaquin Ranch for a Time in Danger. Thousands of Sheep Overtaken and Burned to Beath. Dastrous fires Again Break Out in San Mateo and Calistoga Has a Close Call. By Telegraph to the The Times. SANTA ANA, Sept 24. --- [Special.] Forest fires have been raging in the mountains east of this city since this morning about 8 o’clock . The fire originated at Donland’s sheep ranch, known as the Rancho Cañada de Loco, and was caused by the careless throwing of ashes on dry brush. Many miles of mountain land have been burned during the day, the course of the fire extending toward the south. It is reported that great loss has been sustained by sheep-owners. The San Joaquin ranch containing over 100,000 acres, is considered in danger should the wind change. The territory covered thus far is about 25 miles long and from three to six miles in width. The city is not supposed to be in danger, as a strong wind is blowing in the opposite direction.

Later.---Seventy-five men have been fighting the fire around the San Joaquin ranch. They plowed the ground for 50 feet between the fire and cultivated land. The ranch is safe at present. Nor further damage is reported. The fire is still raging, but is continued [sic] to the foothills.

SANTA ANA , Sept. 24.---[By the Associated Press] Fire started in the grass on the foothills near the town of El Modena today. A violent windstorm was raging at the time and the flames spread with alarming rapidity. On the San Joaquin ranch a band of sheep numbering 3000 was overtaken by the fire, and it was thought all perished, but they were saved. [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 25, 1889]

[29] 1889. FLAME-SWEPT! A Dangerous Fire on the Mesas Near Town. Mission Valley Threatened. Early yesterday afternoon dense clouds of smoke were seen ascending skywards from the vicinity of Mission valley, northeast of the city, and even then, owing to the condition of the weather, fears were entertained that the fire would do great damage in the valley and possibly reach the city. This morning the fire was burning more fiercely and the fears increased. And at 9 o’clock it was learned that the flames were within a mile of the county hospital in Mission valley, or within three miles of the city. The dense mass of smoke attracted but little attention, a good many people thinking it nothing but an immense cloud. Communicating by telephone with Superintendent Estes of the county hospital, the San Diegan learned that there was danger of the fire reaching the valley within a few hours. Mr. Estes could not state the exact location of the fire, but reported that as nearly as he could determine, it was raging fiercely in Murphy’s canyon and undoubtedly beyond control. The flames had spread all over the mesa beyond the river, urged on by a strong wind from the east, had destroyed a large area of pasturage; an extensive bee ranch, and the smoke reached east and west as far as he could see, apparently extending as far inland as the mountains. At 10’oclock Superintendent Estes telephoned the San Diegan that the fire was spreading between San Diego and Poway . All the telephone poles in the track, crossing the wires from San Diego to Escondido, had been burned to the ground. Five hundred stands of bees belonging to John Watson on the Mission mesa, beyond the river, had also been destroyed. At Watson’s place the fire jumped the road and was reported burning in the direction of Linda Vista….

HELP WANTED….Grave fears are entertained that if the wind shifts from east to west the fire will be turned into El Cajon valley, when damage beyond estimate would result. At 11o’clock the report from Mission valley was that the fire had not gotten beyond Murphy’s cañon. The wind, however, continued strong from the northeast, and it was feared momentarily that the flames would cross from the cañon into what is known as the South Range of Hills, from which point it would work up on the mesa to University Heights …

FEARS ON JOHNSON HEIGHTS. At 11 o’clock a report reached the city that the fire had crossed the river and was spreading on toward Johnson heights. A vast volume of smoke was seen rolling that way, and that gave rise to the report. By telephone inquiry was made at the residence of Ernest Cox, on Johnson Heights . “No, the fire has not reached us,” came the answer, “but the wind is blowing strongly directly from the fire in our direction, and we feel that there will be some danger if the flames cross the river. Our man has just been out to investigate, and says the fire is still on the other side of the valley, but is coming to the river at a point about opposite the Poor Farm. The hot wind here is scorching our shrubbery and even warping the pictures on the walls inside the house.” The fires was started by an old German who desired to clear his ground of grass, but before he could realize it, the fire was beyond his control.

A DANGEROUS RIDE. A rancher who came into the city over the Mission road at 5o’clock yesterday afternoon stated that the fire had burned over an extent of country ten miles square, and that as he drove along the road, the fire raged fiercely on the easterly side. A number of times he would have to stop and rest his horses before passing more dangerous places where the fire threatened to singe his horses. As soon as they got their wind he would whip them up and pass by blazing masses of brush on a dead run and at times the dense smoke and dust, so completely obscured the vision that he was almost tempted to give up the attempt to reach San Diego. He persevered, however, and finally left the smoke and fire behind him. At 11 [unclear] the following telephone messages came from the city hospital. The fire is getting worse and wind is still driving it rapidly down the valley. We have sent for help.

A REPORT FROM OBSERVERS. Dr. Goebenauer and W. M . Gassoway returned from a trip up Mission Valley at 2 o’clock . They report that the fire is burning about one mile above the Poor farm. “When we arrived there,” said Dr. Goebenauer, “the fire above thr farm was large and angry and threatened imminent danger to the hospital. In a half hour’s time, however, the flames were carried in a westerly direction, the wind having temporarily changed which drove this fire over to the burnt district; where nothing was left for it to feed up. That head of fire then disappeared, except the small firebrands which threaten to fan into flames at any time the wind might again change and carry them to an unburned district. The other branch of the fire is still burning opposite the Poor Farm and a quarter of a mile to the west. This fire is burning fiercely and traveling toward Morena and pacific Beach. The fire started, according to our information, fourteen miles away on the Poway road. When on the higher elevations it appeared to us that fires were to be seen in almost every canyon about us.” From the heights overlooking Mission valley this afternoon the fire could be seen burning rapidly toward the north, red tongues of flame shooting up from the cañons on all sides. On the north side of the river the black and still smoking hills stood out in bold relief from the cultivated green fields in the valley at the edge of which the flames were stayed. On several ranches on the north side of the river the fire had worked into the pasturage, and the ranch buildings were so hidden by smoke that it was impossible to tell whether or not they were in danger. At 2:30 o’clock it did not appear probable that the fire would cross to the south side of the river, but the wind shifting to the northwest it was feared that it might after all be driven into El Cajon valley.

NEARER THE CITY. A Fire Sweeps Down Switzer Canyon The City Enveloped in Smoke. While the flames were spreading over the Mission mesa another fire started on the mesa immediately back of the big park. The origin of this fire is unknown. It is believed by some that it is simply a continuation of the fire from the Mission mesa, which has crossed the rivers somewhere back of Grantville and made its way to the adjoining mesa on this side. If such proves to be the case the loss to be reported will be extensive.

GREAT VOLUMES OF SMOKE. When first noticed the mesa fire was burning in the City heights addition. The ‘dobe lands there retain moisture longer than the sandy soils, and as a result the chapparel [sic] is greener. Because of this fact the fire chiefly made itself manifest by dense columns of black smoke. The Heights lie north of east of the city, and the wind came directly from the heights down upon the business portion of the city. By 12 o’clock the city was enveloped in a blanket of smoke, which penetrated everywhere and for a time made objects across the street almost invisible in certain quarters, and especially about Twelfth and B streets. The wind was blowing a gale, and it was felt by everybody that a great danger was imminent….

DOWN THE CANYON. In the meantime the flames were rapidly following the smoke and were sweeping their way down the canyon. There appeared to be a great spread of fire in the City Heights ’ addition, the area of which could not be accurately estimated. From that point the smoke and flames were driven down the canyon. Fortunately, so far as could be seen at least, the fire did not spread to any great extent outside of the canyon, except that for short distances here and there it followed the small gulches leading into the canyon. Faster than a man could walk it made its way toward the city. Viewed from a distance it presented an awful appearance, as the heavy waves of black smoke rolled over each other, their darkness penetrated at intervals by flashes of flame. As a fires clump of sage brush was caught there would first be new volume of smoke, then a crackling sound and finally a burst of flame. About half way down the cañon a chicken ranch was kept by some man whose name could not be learned nor could his fate or the fate of his family be ascertained, but it is known that now all that space is blackened ground. For two or more years an eccentric character who is a familiar object about the city and is recognized by reason of his constantly wearing two…. [The Daily San Diegan, September 25, 1889]

[30] 1889. San Diego County. September 25. A fire which threatened the city ( San Diego ) this morning started yesterday from Linda Vista… The fire burned to the edge of the city and only by the exertion of the fire department was San Diego saved… The entire city park tract was burned over…The burned over is about 18 miles long and from 5 to 8 miles wide… the wind was so brisk that the flames leaped fifty feet into the air… [San Francisco Chronicle; in Barrett 1935, p. 104-5]

[31] 1889. The Santa Ana Fire. SANTA ANA, Sept. 26. – A resident of Santiago canon named Baker, while driving to Orange with a team-load of honey, was severely burned driving through forest fires. One of the horses was burned so that the animal had to be killed. So narrow was Baker’s escape that the hind end of his wagon was ablaze, destroying a portion of his load. The injured man is being cared for at Orange . [Riverside Daily Press And Tribune, September 26, 1889]

[32] 1889. THE HOT WAVE. It Reaches Santa Ana With a Sandstorm. Old Sol’s Ardent Rays Intensified by Fires in Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Rough Experience of a Board of Supervisors. Reports Further North. The last wave which visited this section yesterday was not confined to the bay region, nor were the fires which swept over the mesas near the city the only fires prevailing in the Southern counties. While the unusual heat was due in a large degree to the desert zephyrs from the northeast, the fires added to it materially.

SANDSTORM AT SANTA ANA. The passengers on the San Diego train who arrived in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon reported that fire was raging on both sides of the track near Santa Ana, and they thought they would be smothered before they got through the burning district. The fire was still raging last night, and the chances are that hot days will be in order the rest of this week. It is impossible to estimate the damage done at this time. The Los Angeles times says the Board of Supervisors met with a rather angular accident in the Santa Ana valley while out inspecting roads. They were driving quietly along in a large six seated carriage, when all of a sudden a regular old he Santa Ana struck them and amidships, and quicker than a flash their carriage was converted into a bicycle. The wheels that first came in contact with the storm were raised three feet from the ground, and the wheels on the other side had to bear the weight of the law-makers. The heavyweights of the board climbed up on the windward side of the carriage, and finally succeeded in bringing it down, but they had a narrow escape from being capsized, and their presence of mind is the only thing that waved them. The sandstorm seemed to be going at the rate of fifty miles a minute, and the sand was so thick that the board had to turn back. It is said to have been the heaviest sandstorm that has struck the valley for some years. The wind was so hot that people who passed through it had to cover faces up with blankets and laprobes to keep it from burning their whiskers off.

FIRES AT SAN BERNARDINO. San Bernardino Times Index: This morning just after the north wind had manifested its presence in this city, clouds of smoke rolled over the town from a northerly direction. It was found that the flames were raging on the mountains between Waterman and Devil cañons and also in both cañons, but north of Governor Waterman’s residence. The fire was also burning on the mesa this side of the mountains and was making rapid headway toward town. Should it succeed in igniting the stubble and hay stacks this side of the Little mountain, with the wind blowing directly over the city, there is no telling where it would stop, as there are numerous dwelling houses in the northwest portion of the city right in the track of the fire as it is burning at present…. [The Daily San Diegan, September 26, 1889]

[33] 1889. By Telegraph. Serious Fires All Along the San Diego Mesa. SAN DIEGO, Sept. 26. – Eighteen miles of mesa and valley land was burnt over by the fire which started at Linda Vista yesterday. A high wind last night started the fire on a line for this city, whose outskirts it reached yesterday morning. The flames swept down Switzer’s cañyon, burning the ties and bridges of the Park Belt Line and endangering houses on the outskirts of the city. At noon the entire fire department turned out and met the conflagration at the head of Sixteenth street, where its advance was checked. The city is filled with smoke and cinders are falling in the business district. The progress of the fire now seems to be across the City Park, which will bring it to the eastern portion of Florence Heights, where costly residences stand. No news has been received as yet of causalities on the mesa, but many ranch houses are known to have been in the track of the fire. The county buildings on the poor farm had a narrow escape, the conflagration sweeping around it. The fire was fifty feet in the air. The fire was started by a rancher burning brush. [Riverside Daily Press And Tribune, September 26, 1889]

[34] 1889. Orange County. September 25. …Tonight the mountains are illuminated in spots all the way to San Diego in San Diego County showing the vast scope of country which has been swept over by the flames… [San Francisco Examiner, September 26, 1889>; in Barrett 1935, p. 103]

[35] 1889. BLAZING FIELDS; A Traveler’s Portions…Through Fire; San Diego Fireman Called Out…; Bridges Across the Santa Ana River Are Threatened; Fires Still Raging in San Diego County. NEAR COLTON . Colton , Sept. 25. --- Forest fires broke out in the Santa Ana River bottom, and for the time threatened the motor road and its bridges across the river, but no harm has yet been. … [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 26, 1889]

[36] 1889. San Diego Fires. San Diego, September 21.--- The fire which has been raging in Jerauld valley during the week, has destroyed houses, barns and grain to the amount of eight or ten thousand dollars. H. G. Jerauld, Thos. Ritchie and three children were overtaken by the flames while driving across the valley. They escaped through the fire without any serious injuries, but the horses were burned to death. [San Ana Weekly Blade, September 26, 1889>]

[37] 1889. All manner of reports are flying about regarding the destruction of live stock and other property in the wake of the fire which started in Santiago Canyon Tuesday, but no definite information so far been forthcoming to substantiate the reports. [San Ana Weekly Blade, September 26, 1889]

[38] 1889. More Forest Fires. Colton , September 25.--- Forest fires broke out in Santa Ana River bottom, which for a time threatened the Southern California Motor, and the California Southern bridges across the river, but no harm is yet done. [San Ana Weekly Blade, September 26, 1889]

[39] 1889. The Mountain Fires. The fires in the mountains east of the city are not yet extinguished as was evidenced by the scene this morning at 3 o’clock . The whole eastern horizon was brightly illuminated and presented a majestic and sublime sight. [San Ana Weekly Blade, September 26, 1889 ]

[40] 1889. FROM THE FIRE. Many False Reports Circulated --- The Danger Now Past. The fire in the foothills has about run its course. The rising of the wind yesterday morning rekindled it in a few places, and during a portion of the afternoon a dense smoke was seen in the neighborhood of the Bixby rancho, between the Santiago creek and the Santa Ana river; but later in the evening it disappeared and no further damage is now anticipated. During all of yesterday reports were brought to the city about the damage resulting from the blaze, but when they were run down the result generally proved that there was no foundation to them. Several stories were circulated to the effect that a large band of sheep, varying in number from one to six thousand, had been destroyed. There seems from closer inquiry to be no foundation to the rumor whatever. All the sheep and cattle were driven from the canyon into the valley upon the approach of the fire. There were, however, several hundred stands of bees burned. Mr. Baker, in coming down during the balze, had his horses and wagon quite badly scorched, receiving several severe burns himself. Captain Healey and George Irvine were camping in the Santiago canyon at the time the fire started, and they say that in less than five minutes from the time the fire broke loose, the whole side of the mountain was ablaze. It originated on Noland’s rancho, just outside the boundary line of the Lomas de Santiago. [San Ana Weekly Blade, September 26, 1889]

[41] 1889. From Daily Blade of September 25.---Judge Freeman held a risk of $5000 on some grain on the San Joaquin Ranch which expired yesterday at noon . An effort was made by the parties to have it renewed, but on account of the proximity of the fire which is raging in the hills the request was denied. [San Ana Weekly Blade, September 26, 1889]

[42] 1889. From Daily Blade of September 26. If the wind keeps up for another day Orange county will be indebed to San Bernardino for several sections of real estate. [San Ana Weekly Blade, September 26, 1889]

[43] 1889. Furious Fires. Base Line Scorched and the City Threatened. About forty men were busy as beavers fighting fire, yesterday, as close to town as Base Line street . The forking flames rushed down to Base Line through the dry Twin creek wash, and but for the incessant efforts of the fire-fighters, would have destroyed the populous section north of Base Line – for that matter, would have broken into the city, itself. The Courier warned the people of this city, yesterday morning, that there was danger of such a catastrophe. So did Mr. Walker. Some people laughed at the warning. Indeed, one solemn and sapient simperer, who in his own estimation at least is omniscient, called at this office to exude a rather heavy broadside of very obtuse sarcasm at the COURIER’S “panic.” Yet, about the time that his wise ponderosity was delighting himself with the smoky corruscations of his foggy wit, forty men were engaged in a fierce conflict with the flames at Base Line, and it required the strongest possible efforts to save the dwelling house of Mr. John Barton, situated on Base Line street . One hay stack was burned on Highland avenue, while it was only by desperate efforts that others were saved. Back-firing, in fact, saved that whole rich region. The fire burned over the plain to the new graveyard and scorched the fence. Then it died out for want of food. The informant of the COURIER says that all the efforts of the men would have been futile had it not been for the invincible resistance offered in many places by fields of green sunflowers. Had the latter been withered, the city of San Bernardino would have had a hard fight for salvation. To the northwest and directly north of the city, the sunflowers presented an impassable barrier, but in the rich and populous Base Line section, cultivation had deprived the country of such protection to a great degree. The fire which so nearly destroyed the Base Line country and menaced the city was undoubtedly the deliberate work of incendiaries, for, men who were at work, yesterday, fighting the Devil creek fire, saw two men calmly start the fire which ravaged the country down to Base Line. Unfortunately, however, they could not recognize them. Surely, it is time to punish this new sort of arson just as severely as we do the man who sets fire to a city. Surely, it is time to declare such incendiarism legally what it is morally – felony. [The Daily Courier, San Bernardino , September 26, 1889]

[44] 1889. Fire on the Mesa . No Damage Done, But It Was A Close Call. There was great excitement in the city yesterday morning and all kinds of exaggerated reports were in circulation in regard to a fire on the Mesa in the direction of Mission valley. At all events there was a strong wind blowing and the clouds of dense smoke noticeable in the direction of Switzer’s canyon caused people to hurry in that direction. A Union reporter attempted to drive up Switzer’s canyon at about 1 o’clock, but this was found to be impossible, owing to the smoke which was swept down the canyon. Several other parties attempted to go up about the same time, but the smoke so suffocated them that they were compelled to turn back. The heat was intense. The reporter next switched around to Golden Hill. A large crowd of volunteers had assembled to the left of the residence of Dr. B. F. Gamber, and although the fire came to within a hundred feet of that dwelling, there did not appear to be any great danger of any of the houses in that neighborhood catching fire. Some distances further on, Mr. Dodge was found keeping a keen eye on his house, but he did not apprehend any particular danger. The old man who is known to fame by his eccentricity of always wearing two hats, was next encountered. He said: “The fire started about 8 o’clock this morning, and I think it was started by a hunter. It passed by my camp and burned a stool. Fortunately there was not much brush where I am camped and the flames soon died out.” The reporter next proceeded down the ravine on foot in the direction of the railroad and met Mr. Pope, who keeps a chicken ranch in Switzer’s canyon. He reported that his barn had caught fire, but he put it out before much damage was done. The reporter, in order to get to the chicken ranch had to pass over considerable baked ground, the flames having passed over that vicinity but a short time before, as several stones picked up were still very hot. A detour was made and the reporter drove around through the City Heights, University Heights and Florence Heights and no great damage done by the brush fire could be discovered. At several points, however, the flames extended in close proximity to several houses near the city limits. O.A. Savage was met in front of Pope’s place, and he told the reporter that one of the railroad bridges on the motor line had been partially destroyed by fire. The wind changed about 2 o’clock, which relieved the minds of a score of families who had been watching the rapid spread of the flames in all directions with great aim. At Golden Hill the people had a good view of the flames and smoke, as they rolled down the valley with great rapidity. [The San Diego Union and Daily Bee, September 26, 1889]

[45] 1889. Remove the Cause of Danger. Yesterday San Diego not only passed through a period of alarm, but it passed through a period of actual and great danger. How great that danger was only those who took the pains to investigate, only those who were actual observers of the rapid spread of the fire, and who saw it irresistibly sweep through the inflammable chapparel [sic] and sage brush, and on toward the residence portion of the city, can really appreciate. But those who climbed the hills just back of the city, and saw the rapid spread of the flames are fully aware that the danger was real and great. At 11 o’clock the wind was blowing a gale from the northeast. The fire had run down the canon to Twenty-eighth street and there mounted the mesa and spread to within a block or two of a number of fine residences….[Daily San Diegan, September 26, 1889]

[46] 1889. Tuesday we experienced a ‘ Santa Ana .’ There was plenty of dust & discomfort, and the wine blew with call its old-time vigor. Same yesterday. [Anaheim Gazette, September 26, 1889]

[47] 1889. The high wind of Tuesday succeeded in doing considerable damage in different sections… In some unaccountable manner fire started at the Blanchard sheepcamp, south of town on Tuesday morning and in a short time destroyed the entire camp. Loss unknown. [Anaheim Gazette, September 26, 1889]

[48] 1889. Tuesday evening, from the balcony of the Planters Hotel, the fire on the San Joaquin ranch presented an awe-inspiring spectacle. The fire seemed to stretch from the mouth of the Santiago Canyon southward toward San Juan Capistrano, covering the Aliso and Trabuco ranchos, and ranging over twenty miles of territory. The picnic grounds ar Santiago are entirely destroyed and great quantities of hay, grain and feed on the San Joaquin ranch were burned. No causalities are reported. [Anaheim Gazette, September 26, 1889]

[49] 1889. The wild, weird winds from the noisy north raged and raved and ranted all day, yesterday. Their harsh moaning and hoarse groaning blended in a chant infernal in its shrill discordance. [The Daily Courier, San Bernardino , September 26, 1889]

[50] 1889. FIRE IN THE BRUSH. Flames Sweep Down Paradise Valley Mesa and Threaten Wholesale Destruction. About 10:30 o’clock today fire started in the brush near the Josselyn house, and impelled by an east wind, followed the valley down to appoint near Mr. Dow’s house, where it crossed and began to climb the hill. Mr. George Parsons, Mr. Baird and Mr. Rice were on the scene, the latter working to save Mrs. Wheelers’s house, which was threatened, and the two former back-firing near Mr. J.C. Hussey’s house, where about 150 tons of hay were exposed. This undoubtedly prevent a further spread of the flames and Mr. Dow’s house was saved. Had not the dry grass been back-fired for about 400 yards there is no doubt that the fire would have leaped up the hill and the whole city would have been in danger. Fortunately, about 1o’clock the wind changed and the fire subsided. An alarm was sounded and Active Hose No. 1 laid hose and were ready to throw on water if it was necessary. There was no damage. [The National City Record, September 26, 1889]

[51] 1889. SANTA ANA , Sept. 26. – The fire which has been burning for the past two days still continues in the canons. The burned and burning district now extends over one hundred miles from north to south, and is 10 to 18 miles in width. Over $100,000 worth of pasturage and timber has been destroyed. [Riverside Daily Press And Tribune, September 27, 1889]

[52] 1889. Orange County . A Delayed Report of Forest Fires. SANTA ANA , Sept. 25. [correspondence of The Times] The latest reports from the scene of the late fires have it that no damage outside of the mountain lands has been sustained. The reports of the loss of 3000 sheep and large quantities of hay and grain are not true. The San Joaquin ranch had narrow risk, but as the men worked hard and earnestly, means were provided to prevent the fire spreading when once it reached the limits of the ranch. Last night the scene was sublime, the mountains presenting vast sheets of flame, and the atmosphere here (usually so cool and refreshing owing to our close proximity to the ocean) was close and stifling. Sanford Johnson’s extensive shedding on his large ranch, four miles west of the city, is reported to have been blown down. The palming mills in this city were obliged to shut down on account of the disagreeable weather… [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 27, 1889]

[53] 1889. …During the past three or four days destructive fires have been raging in San Bernardino, Orange and San Diego severely. Mr. Warren Wilson, who arrived from San Diego yesterday, says it is a positive fact that two or three thousand sheep were burned near Santa Ana, while great quantities of grain in the bag, fencing, hay, etc., have been destroyed. So far, no human lives are reported lost. A fatality seems to follow this ill-omened year of 1889. Fire and flood and earthquake shocks have marked this year for their own. It is a year of disasters, wide-spread destruction of life and property – and, well, a year of horrors. [The Daily Courier, San Bernardino , September 27, 1889]

[54] 1889. By Telegraph. Forest Fires Continue. SAN DIEGO , Sept. 27. – A dispatch from Ensenada Lower California, says: “ Forest fires have been raging near Ensenada, and today a strong wind carried the flames on to the woolen mills, and all of San Carlos is in flames. There is another fire on the south side of the city, and fears are entertained for the safety of this town. It is believed Gen. Webb’s house is burned to the ground. Riveroll’s ranch has been swept by the flames. [Riverside Daily Press And Tribune, September 27, 1889]

[55] 1889. Orange County . The devastating fire still continues in portions of the canyons. The burned district now extends a hundred miles from north to south and 10 to 18 miles in width. Much pasture and timber has already been consumed by the flames. At San Juan Capistrano last night great danger was experienced in keeping a fire from the heart of the city… [San Francisco Examiner, September 27, 1889 ; in Barrett 1935, p. 107]

[56] 1889. SANTA BARBARA , Sept. 26. – In the upper part of Santa Barbara county it is estimated that $200,000 worth of property, including timber and food, has been destroyed during the past week. [Riverside Daily Press And Tribune, September 27, 1889]

[57] 1889. The Mesa Fire. What It Did In Mission Valley And Linda Vista. A correspondent at Mission Valley states that the mesa fire of Wednesday originated at Linda Vista by the extreme carelessness of a farmer living on the Poway road. It had been burning for two days, and appeared to be traveling in the direction of El Cajon, but owing to a strong east wind it was directed down to Mission Valley . The hills in the vicinity of Mrs. Murray’s place were swept clean by it, and about fifty acres of excellent pasture and a large amount of fencing completely destroyed. Mrs. Murray’s house at one time was entirely surrounded, and was only saved by the efforts of her son and her neighbors, who fought the fire bravely. Before the fire reached Mission Valley, it entirely destroyed the apiary of Mr. Watson. [The San Diego Union, San Diego , September 27, 1889]

[58] 1889. Santa Barbara County. September 27. Extensive fires have been raging today and tonight in Sycamore and Cold Spring Canyons to the east of town [San Francisco Examiner, September 28, 1889; in Barrett 1935, p. 108]

[59] 1889. A Perilous Ride. One and a Half Miles Trough a Blazing Canyon. How the Mesa Fires Destroyed and Damaged Property and Endangered Lives at Linda Vista Two Women and a Man Reported Lost. LINDA VISTA, Cal., Sept. 27, 1889. Your correspondent has been fighting fires for the last two days, in fact everybody has been at the same work, trying to save their own and other people’s property, in many cases running through the fire with danger to their lives, they have fought bravely. Michael Carroll experienced a perilous ride, his brother Thomas Carroll, who lives a mile and a quarter up the cañon, was absent from home, and in order to save the buildings, Michael rode that distance on horseback. With the flames all around him, sweeping with terrible roar down the cañon, which was covered with heavy brush, he arrived at his brother’s houses just in time. If he had been five minutes later all the buildings would have been burned to the ground. The gum trees and cypress trees around the house were pretty well singed. Your correspondent and Charles Paynes were on the ground, and made for the lumber of the new Episcopal church which was hauled to the spot the day before. We found the fire all around it, and the lumber just beginning to burn. After putting out the fire around it, so there would be no more danger, we ran through the flames to the house of Dr. T. K. Smith. In a shed adjoining the house was about three tons of hay. We had to fight the fire pretty hard around the house, but at last got it under control and saved the buildings. By that time the fire was so far ahead of us we could get no further, though we tried to reach John Lavigne’s buildings. His dwelling house was burned to the ground; also the frame work to a cistern near the house was burned. George W. Marnton’s barn was also burned to the ground. The dwelling house is safe. we do not know of any other buildings being consumed by the fire, although if it had not been for Samuel Porter driving as fast as he could ever to Mr. Watson’s bee ranch, on the ex-Mission, his house and apiary would have been entirely destroyed, as it was, between seventy and eighty stands of bees were burned. Mr. Porter succeeded in saving the rest of the hives and dwelling house. The damage done to the apiary will amount to between $200 and $300. there was considerable damage done to John Lavigne’s trees, Benjamin Myers’ and Thomas Carroll’s. it would be well for the Honorable Board of Supervisors to get notices printed in the different languages warning the people, and stating the penalty attached, and let them be put up in conspicuous places all over the country, offering a reward for detection, then there could be no excuses for people to set brush fires. Of course it is not done intentionally, but if there is not an example made, the property and even lives of people are not safe. Your correspondent learned late last evening that two women and a man are lost in the heavy brush to the west of Bernardo. They started to go to a neighbor’s house and the fire surrounded them. They have not been heard from since. We sincerely hope the report is not correct. –Benjamin Myers [The Daily San Diegan, San Diego , September 28, 1889]

[60] 1889. Fire on Santa Marguerita. An Immense Territory Swept by the Flames. Mr. Hardy, who has just returned from the Santa Marguerita ranch, says that for three days a number of men have been fighting the flames. The fire originated at the Coral del Luce and extended to the Santa Rosa mountains, and the east wind then brought on fire in the direction of the ranch, and it is estimated that fully 65,000 acres were burned before the fire was extinguished. He reports that the fire is still raging in the mountains and the people in that section say it is the worst ever known. [The San Diego Union, September 29, 1889]

[61] 1889. Weather Report.

Direction of wind
Maximim temperature [F]

[Riverside Daily Press And Tribune, 30 Sept 1889]

[62] 1889. The Fires. Reported From Nearly all Sections of the County. Reports from different sections of the county show that last week’s fires were widespread. For two days there were over thirty miles of burning brush on the west side of Santa Rosa Range, and thousands of sheep are supposed to have lost their lives in the conflagration. In the Aliso District, near Encinitas, the fire raged several days, resulting in a heavy loss of crops to the farmers in that section. Robert Israel lost considerable cord wood and charcoal, also a large barn. At last account the fire was nearly out. At San Jacinto a bin on the ranch of A. W. McAllister destroyed 100 tons of barley and alfalfa hay, blacksmith shop and contents, farm utensils, seventeen hogs, etc., making a total loss of $1,400. The most extensive fires for years have been raging on the Santa Margarita ranch. A bridge on the line of the California Southern railway, below Temecula, was burned as the result of forest fires. Fires near Julian burned considerable timber and did other damage. [The Daily San Diegan, San Diego , September 30, 1889]

[63] 1889. Local News. The fires in the valleys and foothills lately have almost hidden the lofty peak of San Bernardino from sight. He appears dimly, if at all, and as if floating in cloudland. [Riverside Daily Press And Tribune, October 1, 1889]

[64] 1889. THE FIRE AT POTRERO. Two lives lost --- Mr. Lorrell’s Ill Luck. The brush fires in the surrounding country proved very destructive. Potrero suffered very much; considerable property was destroyed and two lives were lost. A man named Hanson was burned to death and another named Williams was overcome with terror and died. Numerous sheep were also killed by the flames. The friends of Mr. William Lorrell, so well known here, will be pained to learn that he was a great sufferer. In fact, he lost everything he had. His home, on a government claim, had been built up with hard work and considerable trouble, and he has nothing to show for it now except a handful of ashes. Even the crops which were carefully stowed away, disappeared entirely. When the flames swooped donw on the house, Mrs. Lorrell fled to a neighbor’s, Mr. White, located on a hill. Several persons were congregated there for safety, and even there thy narrowly escaped death. Mr. Lorrell, who was on his way home from national City when the fire occurred\, could not get with a mile of his house, and he feared for the loss of his family as well as his property…. [Riverside Daily Press And Tribune, October 1, 1889]

[65] 1889. Weather Report.

2 p.m. Temperature [F]

The first “Norther of the season came on the morning of the 15th lasting two day. A more lively one was experienced the 24th and 25th. [South Riverside Bee, October 3, 1889]

[66] 1889. The Forest Fires. We were wending our way up a rough mountain trail last evening, and after considerable exertion we suddenly reached the summit, and lo! from north to south and from east to west we could see lights of the many fires which are now raging furiously during the east wind. These are not the lights of the household fires gleaming warm and bright, but they are directly the opposite – bringing destruction to our homes, to our beautiful forests which should especially be the pride of every man, woman and child in the section of our county. Desolation, waste and want follow in the paths of these fires. … The scenes of last summer’s fires are familiar to many, and above all we mourn the loss of our forest trees. When we look at the Cuyamaca peaks and see how the pine, cedar and oak trees have been mown down or destroyed by fire, we should have feelings of regret for the great loss we sustain… [The Julian Sentinel, Julian , California October 4, 1889]


[67] 1890. San Diego County . Mr. John Campbell of San Diego, California states that he made homestead entry on land near the southeastern boundary of Jamul Grant (approximately Section 5, T.18 S., R. 2 E., S.5.M.) in the year 1888. Two years after his settlement a fire started about 1 mile north of his ranch and burned over Bratton, Corta Madera and Pine Valleys and the greater portion of the laguna country, continuing on east to the desert burning an area of approximately 5 townships. The greater portion of the area burned supported only brush… [Memorandum written by Forest Ranger Jne. D. Maxfield, Escondido , California , May 3, 1915 ; in Barrett 1935, p. 115]

[68] 1891. A Settler’s Experience with a Mountain Brush Fire. One of the most exciting races for life that has ever been recorded in this section, took place in the mountains back of Santa Monica early Thursday morning. During Wednesday night a brush fire got under headway, and by daylight fire the whole country was in flames. A young settler named Wilson, who had built himself a cabin in the mountains, was asleep when the flames reached his house, and he was not awakened until the fire almost roasted him. … he though his last day had come, for flames and dense smoke shot up on all sides several hundred feet, … it is doubtful if any fire can travel as fast as a California brush fire in the mountains where the brush and grass is as dry as tinder. At least Wilson thought it was traveling twenty miles an hour and had it not been for the fact that the mustang is acquainted with every foot of ground and every trail in the mountains, no power under the sun would have saved Wilson ’s life. [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 26, 1891]

[69] 1891. Santa Barbara . Extensive Forest Fires Raging in the Rincon Mountains. It is learned that the prediction made in this column yesterday about brush fires in Ventura county, east of the Rincon Mountains, has been verified…a big fire was raging in Wheeler Cañon, north of Saticoy, and that considerable excitement had been caused over the matter. [Los Angeles Daily Times, November 26, 1891]

[70] 1893. Flames In The Mountains. A Disastrous Conflagration along the Cahuenga Range [Hollywood Hills]. Last Saturday about noon one of the most disastrous conflagrations which has ever desolated the mountain regions in the vicinity of Los Angeles, broke out in the west fork of Coldwater canon, which is located in the Cahuenga mountains about nine miles from the city. … The intense heat of the preceding two days had dried everything in the shape of grass or shrubbery to a crisp, and the high wind blowing in the afternoon gave the flames in a few minutes a terrible headway. They leaped from brush to brush down the canon with a terrific roar, making a clean sweep on every side, … The fire swept over much wood and wild feed all along the foot of the mountains and at last accounts was still burning. [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 25, 1883]

[71] 1894. Santa Barbara County . Santa Barbara was visited again this afternoon by severe mountain fires. One has crossed the Santa Ynez range near the Refugio Pass in the vicinity of the big fire last week. Another crossed near the San Raul Canyon just north of the city and is burning down the mountain toward the valley. [San Francisco Chronicle, September 11, 1894 ; in Barrett 1935, p. 129]

[72] 1894. A Mountain Fire. Graphic Picture of a Black-and-white Flame-burst. Santa Barbara , Nov. 13. – I am just witnessing one of the most beautiful sights of my life, a view surpassing Vesuvius, although similar to one I saw there, four years ago. Opposite the low crest of the foothills, on the slope of the mountain, two ridges are burning. From the nearest one at fire rose flames ten to fifteen feet high. A little later they disappeared, and in their places and above them rose masses of pure white smoke, rolling over and over, rising evolving, like finest, lightest, fleeciest wool, until higher up they joined the darker more sulphurous smoke which rose from a second fire, a little to the left and further back on the mountain… [Los Angeles Daily Times, November 15, 1894]

[73] 1894. In 1894, almost the entire area of the present Monterey ranger district of the Los Padres Forest was burned over by fires which raged unchecked for weeks at a time” [Brown 1945, p. 133]

[74] 1896. Pasadena . Fires on the Mountains Present a Brilliant Spectacle. The mountain fires which have been raging for three weeks to the northwest, approached the summit of the range Tuesday night, and the flames formed a beautiful spectacle, which was watched for hours by Pasadena people. Today the indications are that the fire has crossed the summit, and is coming down the slope. Beside this great fire in the Tejunga region, a fire has been raging in the Millard Cañon since Tuesday afternoon …. [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 17, 1896]

[75] 1896. Azusa , Sept. 18. – Extensive mountain fires have been consuming all the brush and timber immediately north of town in the San Gabriel range. The fires have been burning incessantly for about fifteen days and must have denuded an immense acreage of the water shed of this valley. On several nights the fire has approached the town so closely as to illuminate the scene like the light of day…It is the worst conflagration that has occurred in these mountains since the country was settled. [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 19, 1896]

[76] 1896. Checking Mountain Fires. …Yesterday huge sheets of flame were plainly seen from Pasadena, mowing the trees off the historic Brown’s Peak, which was claimed by Jason and Owen Brown, sons of old John Brown of Harpers Ferry fame, and named by them. …The fire fighters reported flames forty feet high rushing and roaring down the cañon until the fire reached the small brush, where it died down so that they could cope with it. There is now a huge fire in San Gabriel Cañon. The smoke darkens the sky in great volumes east of Pasadena … [Los Angeles Daily Times, October 4, 1896]

[77] 1896. Latest News of the Mountain fires. Pasadena , Oct. 4. – The mountain fire still rages back of Pasadena, and today huge flames could be seen from here, sweeping over the top of Brown’s mountain and licking up pines and hemlocks as though they were a pile of shavings… [Los Angeles Daily Times, October 5, 1896]

[78] 1896. Pasadena , Oct. 4. – …Mountain Fire . …The fire has been burning fiercely all day along the crest of Brown Mountain but it is thought that tonight substantial progress will be made in limiting it. Another great fire is approaching from the Tejunga country, but it will probably seek the range to the north of the present fires, and can only be subdued by fighting it from the San Gabriel country. Apprehension is felt that when the Tejunga fire reaches the San Gabriel, the conflagration which is raging there will spread, and danger will be experienced from that quarter… John McCutcheon returned this afternoon and reports the trails impassable, owing to great trees and brush, some still burning, that have fallen across the trails everywhere. He says it is not exaggeration to say sheets of flame fifty feet high are moving the trees from the mountain sides. This evening fire is again seen at several points along the top of the front range… [Los Angeles Daily Times, October 6, 1896]

[79] 1896. Pasadena , Oct. 6 The Mountain Fires. The mountain fires are now raging in Brown’s Cañon… [Los Angeles Daily Times, October 7, 1896]

[80] 1896. The Mountain Fires Are Again Raging With Great Fury. Pasadena , Oct. 7 – The mountain fires are again raging with great fury in the range back of Pasadena, and it is the opinion of those who have had experience in such matters that it will take a force of a least a hundred men to limit the spread of the flames… [Los Angeles Daily Times, October 8, 1896]

[81] 1896. Pasadena , Oct. 12 The Mountain Fires Have Again Broken Forth in Saucer Canyon . It was thought on Saturday that the mountain fires were completely subdued and the only thing necessary to be done now was to maintain a vigilant patrol along the region where the fires have raged, but this morning flames and smoke were seen issuing from Saucer Cañon, a region at some distance from the fires of Saturday, and through which the returning crew passed Saturday afternoon and reported that no trace of fire was to be found there. The flames and smoke have been seen all day, denoting that a great fire is in progress …Some of the men who have been fighting the fire have said positively that it would have been impossible for the fire on Brown’s Mountain to have reached Saucer Cañon, and are inclined to believe that the blaze of today is of very different origin, but those accustomed to mountain fires say that embers can be carried to a great distance in a strong wind, and think this one was created in that manner. [Los Angeles Daily Times, October 13, 1896]

[82] 1896. The Mountain Fires Are Again Threatening Switzers. Pasadena , Oct. 13 – The fire which began Monday in Saucer Cañon, under the favoring conditions of a high wind, extended during the night and today throughout Millards’s Cañon on the north slope, and shows tonight an inclination to work around into the arroyo, where such gallant efforts have been made to subdue it. Should it do so, Switzers’s Camp will inevitably be destroyed. From Pasadena today it seemed as though the flames and smoke were but half a mile distant from Mt. Lowe, but telephone communication with the Echo Mountain House this evening revealed the fact that the fire has made but about an eight of a mile advance in that direction, and is now about two miles and a half from Mt. Lowe… [Los Angeles Daily Times, October 14, 1896]

[83] 1896. While this 1896 Arroyo Seco Fire was burning, there were two other bad fires which swept over several townships of land in the local watershed, one in the Little Tujunga section and the other in Daltons Canyon . The latter burned till late fall, gutting Dalton Canyon completely and evidently sweeping over into the head of San Dimas Canyon and into the east fork of the San Gabriel…. Los Angeles County paid dearly for these 1896 fires. Rains of the following winter, lashing the denuded slopes, brought down tons of silt and boulders to play havoc with foothill villages and valley orchards. A storm of protest arose because of the lack of Government protection given to reserve lands and the following year marked the real beginning of actual Federal administration of the new public reserve…. [Show 1945, p. 113 of unpublished manuscript]

[84] 1896. The year 1896 was an exceedingly bad fire year. The temperature throughout the summer was high, strong winds were experienced and the year was the driest since 1876. In early September a fire broke out in the Big Tujunga above Hoyt’s Ranch supposedly from lightning. It spread due east fires, burning out portions of Clear Creek, and dropped over into the Arroyo Seco, “completely gutting the head of that drainage from the mouth of Dark Canyon” (Mendenhall 1930, p. 4 of unpublished manuscript).

It burned unchecked for six wweks [sic], covering an area of 11,000 acres. There was some official recognition of this fire, called the Arroyo Seco, since for the first time in history, the Los Angeles County Board apparently recognized the wildland fire menace… [Show 1945, p. 113 of unpublished manuscript]

[85] 1898. Fifteen Miles of Mountains Blackened By Flames. Pasadena, July, 30 – Sheets of red flame and pillars of black smoke are towering into the sky from three peaks of the Sierra Madre [San Gabriel] tonight, the canons are vast witch pots of fire and the worst mountain conflagrations for years, in this vicinity, is at its height. The fire has more than doubled since morning, is still spreading, and the sparks are lighting new torches in all directions. Fifteen square miles of territory have now been burned over, mostly on the other side of the mountains from Pasadena ; but the fire once today crept over to the side and encroached to within one mile of the Alpine Tavern. …This morning the extent of the devastated region was estimated at six square miles, and tonight it was fully fifteen. …At sundown, the leaping of the flames was visible from almost every part of the city, and at 10 oclock tonight there was a sublime display of pyrotechnics in the northern heavens. People went on the rooftops to see it. Now a fountain of flame would spurt in in the air from one peak, to be answered by a jet from its lofty neighbor. Then the flames would break and fall as though the fountains had given out. Rockets shot up, burst and fell, as great tree trunks exploded… [Los Angeles Daily Times, July 31, 1898]

[86] 1898. Destructive Flames. Fire in the West Fork of the San Gabriel . Another big fire is raging in the northern sky last night. The fire is not so near Los Angeles as the one of a month ago…There was a big volume of smoke still further to the west yesterday afternoon, coming from an independent fire in the Verdugo foothills. Manager Harry Wilcox of Wilson’s Peak last night stated that the conflagration, a raging lake of fire one and a half miles long is, in a direct line, about eight miles from the peak….

ed… [Los Angeles Daily Times, August 20, 1898]

[87] 1898. Forest Fire’s Fury. Unparalleled Conflagration in San Gabriel Reservation. The fire in the mountains is already twice as large as of July, and is still gaining. …and has devastated a territory forty square miles in extent. Where great pines grew and dense chaparral covered the sides of the mountains and cañons, inviting and preserving rainfalls, there is now a bare blackened smoking waste, bordered with leaping flames. The July conflagration lapped up a region of about twenty square miles and was then subdued. Tonight the flames are gaining headway every hour; …The best view of the conflagration was obtained from the summit of Mt. Alta, about a mile from Wilson’s Peak, whence it looked as if the whole line of mountains, big and little, from the western foothills eastward to the spurs of Old Baldy, had been transformed into active volcanos, spouting fire and fumes. Imagine a line of flame-vomiting peaks, forty miles long, and you will have an idea of the frightful grandeur of the spectacle. This fire, raging in the second and third ranges, is not in such plain view of the valley as was the other, and one must go to the top of the divide to realize its extent, although the northern sky was obscured by dense clouds and columns of smoke all day yesterday. The blaze has been spreading from southwest to northeast, and is making headway in both directions. The brunt of the fire tonight is borne by Mt. Disappointment and the north side of Mt. San Gabriel, or “ Observation Peak,” as it is sometimes called. This grand old mountain of the second range has been the center of attack in both fires. In July the south sides swept clean, and now everything is burning up from the north side above the crest of Mt. San Gabriel, and the fire would have raced over the edge and down the nearer side, if there had been anything left to feed it … [Los Angeles Daily Times, August 21, 1898]

[88] 1898. Dreadful Ravages of Forest fires in the Mountains. Forty-five miles of cañon-bottom and mountainside have already been denuded of water-hoarding vegetation by the destructive forest fire in the west fork of the San Gabriel River … [Los Angeles Daily Times, August 22, 1898]

[89] 1899. Forest Fires Sweep the Mountains. POMONA , Aug. 28. – [Regular Correspondence.] What appears to be the worst forest fire that has occurred in the mountains north of here for years, started yesterday afternoon, apparently from the south side of Mt. Cucamonga . Last night the brilliant glare of many fires shone on the mountain sides, and it is reported here today that the fire sped up Cucamonga Cañon and burned over the section above Stoddard’s Falls, and the west side of another peak, where it is now burning. This morning fire appeared to the running up the eastern side of San Antonio Cañon toward Spring Hill. The smoke in the cañon was so dense at noon that Mt. San Antonio was entirely obscured. The fires are decreasing now, and it is supposed that Forest Ranger Bradford of San Antonio Cañon is at work with a force of men fighting the flames. The extent of the devastation is unknown. [Los Angeles Daily Times, August 29, 1899]

[90] 1899. San Bernardino County. Big Mountain Fire North of Ontario . SAN BERNARDINO , Aug. 31. – [Regular Correspondence.] The big fire raging in the mountains north of Ontario and Cucamonga is gaining ground, and threatens great destruction to the timber land in that vicinity. Early this morning Forest Agent Buick of the San Bernardino reserve, who went from here to protect his own borders and assist in bringing the conflagration under control, telephoned from North Cucamonga asking that more men be sent at once to assist fighting the flames. The fire started Sunday in Stoddard’s Canyon and spread rapidly on Monday. Wednesday it crossed Cucamonga Canyon and was spreading in the direction of Cucamonga Peak . There is danger that it will get over the range and invade the watershed of Lytle Creek, the source of San Bernardino ’s water supply. Hundreds of acres have been burned already. There is little doubt that the excessive heat in this city during the past few days is directly due to the fire. The smell of burning timber could be detected here last night, and today all the northwest was filled by a cloud of smoke. [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 1, 1899]

[91] 1899. Mountain Fires. Agent of the Southern California Forest and Water Association Describes the Terrible Blaze in the Sierra Madre. One of the fiercest fires that has visited the southern section of the State for years is now in progress in the Sierra Madre Mountains [San Gabriel Mtns], southeast of Old Baldy: The flames have been licking up the verdure in the forest reserved during the entire week, and it is now feared that the fire will spread to Lyle creek and the Cajon Pass,…The fire is still burning in the reserve, but owing to the inaccessibility of the mountains where it now is, nothing can be done, say the forest authorities, to stop the devastation. It is thought the flames will eat their way through the forest and will not die out until the edge of the desert is reached. … The fire meantime had been making rapid progress on its course of destruction. It started up the cañon along the east watershed of the San Antonio Creek, and in a short time gained terrific headway. Up the sides of the mountains it went, making great leaps and bounds, now crackling in the underbrush, and the bursting out in great sheets of flame as the fire reached the edge of an opening in the forest. With great jumps, some times of more than a hundred yards, the whirlwind of fire would cross the intervening clearing and catch in the thick underbrush farther on. Throwing dense columns of smoke high in the air and leaving in its wake only cinders and smoking ashes, the fire made its way up the canon, until by Sunday night it had spread overy and beyond the ridge to Spring Hill and over the saddle of Mt. Ontario. In these few hours it is estimated that the fire traversed at least 40,000acres of the forest reserve, whipping out the underbrush, destroying the forest floor, and killing the roots of the big trees. The main reason why the fire did not go over the range in the direction of Old Baldy was that, at the points where the flames reached the bed of the San Antonio Creek, the wash was wide, with very little but green growth along the edge. With the shifting of the wind, the fire turned back and pursued a southeasterly direction down the other side of Stoddards Cañon…. [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 3, 1899]

[92] 1899. San Diego County. Great Devastation By Fires in Timber Lands. SAN DIEGO, September 28. – [Regular Correspondence.] The forest fires in the mountains of this county, which have been raging for the past two weeks are the worst fires known here. Reports today from Palomar Mountain give graphic descriptions of the great devastation of timber in that beautiful park region. Men and women have been fighting fire day and night, many going two or three days without food or sleep. About five miles square of the choicest timber lands of Smith Mountain are utterly destroyed, and many settlers had to fight bitterly to save their houses. Many cattle are known to have been burned. Deer, snakes and mountain lions have been driven down to the settlements. The fire is now partially under control, though those burning on the Cuyamaca Mountains, twenty miles south, are still raging. [Los Angeles Daily Times, September 29, 1899]

[93] 1899. Santa Barbara County. A Mountain fire Raging In The Santa Ynez Range. Santa Barbara, Oct. 7. --- A mountain fire is raging in the Santa Ynez range back of this city for a distance of eight or ten miles. The Los Olivos and Santa Barbara stage was late this evening and reports a great deal of difficulty in getting by the fire. A light breeze is blowing and the indications are that the whole range is in danger… [Los Angeles Daily Times, October 8, 1899]

[94] 1900. FIRE IN SIERRA MADRES HAS SPREAD TO LITTLE SANTA ANITA CANYON. Firefighters Helped By Light Winds. A tremendous fire is raging in the Big and Little Santa Anita canyons. So far about fifty square miles of Mountain territory have been burned over. W.H. Border, the forest commissioner of Pasadena, is directing the energies of a force of fifteen fire fighters, but the number is pitiably inadequate to the magnitude of the work cut out for them. All yesterday afternoon a dense cloud of smoke from the fire was visible from Los Angeles, and last night a fringe of flame could be seen. The pall hung over the mountains to the east all day and today. So far there has been no loss of life and no great loss of property with the exception of the immense damage involved in the burning off of the timber. …Some time during last night the fire crossed the divide between the Big and Little Santa Anita canyons and the brush in both is burning fiercely. …The fire presented a beautiful yet impressive sight to residents of Los Angeles . At about 2 o’clock in the afternoon dense volumes of smoke poured from a gap in the mountain range east of Pasadena . Near the mountain the masses of smoke reflected the prevailing tone of its surroundings, a dark lavender, one might say. Higher up in the atmosphere mass piled upon mass of snowy white clouds as the sun was setting the picture was more exquisite than skill of artist could portray. The last rays were reflected from the summit of the cloud in one shimmering column of gold. [The Los Angeles Record, July 23, 1900]

[95] 1900. MOUTAIN FIRE GAINS ON FIGHTERS. Slowly Working Its Way Up Both Santa Anita Canyons . Special to the Record. MARTIN’S CAMP, MT. WILSON, 2:30 p.m.--- The fire is traveling rather slowly up both the Big Santa Anita Canyon and the [sic] Little Santa Anita canyon, and makes progress with varying rapidity, according as the wind comes. The wind is coming in puffs. There will be an interval of calm and then one of four or five minutes when the wind blows rather sharply. The fire seems to be beyond the control of the fire fighters. The wind is not blowing in one direction, and no fear is felt here, although the fire is a fine sight by day and by night. [The Los Angeles Record, July 23, 1900]

[96] 1900. Forest Fires Have Broken Out Anew. Sturtevant’s Camp is Safe, but the Damage Will Be Great. Sturtevant’s camp, with its large number of temporary sojourners and its valuable property, has had two narrow escapes from total destruction within the past 48 hours, and the fact that the resort has not been wiped out is due to a miracle of providence. A fierce conflagration is now raging in the Big Santa Anita canyon, and many miles of young forest only recently planted, has been entirely burned. The blaze started, as near as can be learned, from a stray spark carried to the mountains by the winds from the Baldwin ranch. … Colonel Allen said today that the greatest obstacle in the way of successfully fighting the flames in the government reserves at this time, lies in the fact that the men necessary for the duty can not be obtained…. [Los Angeles Evening Express, July 23, 1900]

[97] 1900. Destructive Fire in Big Santa Anita Canyon . PASADENA , July 22.---[Regular Correspondence.] PASADENA , July 22.---[Regular Correspondence.] A destructive mountain fire has been raging since noon today in the Big Santa Anita Cañon, and many square miles of the mountain slopes have been burned over. For a time it was feared that Sturtevant’s Camp, with its hundred or more occupants, would be threatened, but at midnight Frank Keyes arrived from the camp, and reported that it is in no danger, and that the fire is more than two miles distant from it. Keyes said that the people at the camp were very much excited at the approach of the fire, and for a time it looked as if the camp would be right in the path of the flames, but the wind changed, so as to drive the fire in another direction. When he left the camp he says those there were more concerned about the fears their friends would have as to their safety than on account of the presence of the fire itself.

NARROWLY ESCAPED DEATH. A tallyho party from Los Angeles had driven to the mouth of the cañon early in the day, and all those in it narrowly escaped being urned ot death. … They had proceeded nearly or quite two miles when they suddenly noticed a dense column of smoke being driven up the cañon by the strong wind. Divining what had happened, they at once began to retrace their steps. It was impossible for them to leave the cañon, and their only hope was to reach the mouth before the fire had spread to such an extent as to cover the two sides. The farther they went the more unbearable became the smoke and the more stifling the heat. It was impossible to follow the trail, and they sought the bed of the cañon, where there is a running stream. The fire was by this time almost all around them, and had the sides of the cañon there been covered with trees, they would have perished. As it was, the only material for the flames was the brush and small bushes which line the sides of the cañon. Their danger was increased greatly by the fact that from time to time a falling tree far up the sides of the mountain would cause large stones to roll down, and several members of the party had narrow escapes from this source. Wetting their garments in the stream the party continued down the cañon, climbing over rocks, and some of them from time to time lying close to the ground to escape from the dense smoke which arose from that portion of the mountain sides which had been burned over. They made frequent halts, for the longer they remained in the depths of the cañon the farther the fire receded from them. The journey was slow at best, and it took them more than two hours to traverse the two miles. During part of the trip they had to cross the burned-over district. When they finally reached the end of the cañon the women were exhausted and two of them fainted. The driver of the tallyho had unhitched his four horses when the party left the vehicle, and when he discovered the fire he was in the act of feeding the horses. So rapidly did the flames spread in the dry grass and brush that he did not have time to hitch up his team. He got two of the horses into the harness, and attaching them to the tallyho, and typing the other horses to the rear, he made a dash for the other side of the fire. On both sides of the road the flames were springing up many feet high, and the fire was spreading up both sides of the cañon. He managed to keep his terrified horses in the road, and reached the other side of the fire in safety. The hair on one side of one of his horses was singed, and the paint on the vehicle was blistered in places, but no other damage was sustained. …

HOW IT STARTED. Ballard was but a short distance from where the fire started, and he declares it was caused by a spark from the smoke-stack of a well-drilling rig near the mouth of the cañon. E. J. Baldwin is drilling a well there, and operations were not suspended yesterday. The man who had charge of the engine there left for dinner, and the fire started during his absence. Hade he been there he would have been able to extinguish the flames before they gained and headway. The fire started at 12:30 o’clock . The strong wind which was blowing, rapidly fanned the flames into a fierce blaze, which swept up the cañon walls in disastrous fury. Eating a wide swath up the mountain sides and destroying every vestige of growth, the flames reached the ridge just at sundown and tonight the eastern sky is illuminated with the flare of the burning tress and undergrowth. Forest Commissioner W. H. Border left Pasadena at 1 o’clock this afternoon to take charge of the fire-fighting force, but the mere handful of men who are available for the service will have a long, hard fight before they succeed in subduing the flames. When it is know that the San Gabriel forest reserve, with its area of 55[0],000 acres, has less than fifteen men to guard it from fire, these men being stationed miles apart over the range, it can be seen what difficulties they will have in their efforts to check the progress of the flames. From Pasadena the view of the fire was a magnificent one. All this afternoon the course of the flames was indicated by the vast clouds of smoke which arose and floated off to the east and which later, when the wind subsided, hung in huge billows over the mountains. Just as the sun went down, tingeing the white mass with varied colors, the flames crept over the ridge from the east and were seen to run swiftly along the backbone of the range. Tonight hundreds of Pasadenians are viewing the scene with admiration, mingled with regret at the sad havoc being caused. [Los Angeles Daily Times, July 23, 1900]

[98] 1900. Large Force of Men Fighting Mountain Fire….PASADENA, July 23. ---[Regular Correspondence.] Forest Ranger Thomas who returned today from the fire in the Big Santa Anita Cañon, says the fire fighters have checked the spread of the flames to the mountains on the north, but says the task of subduing the blaze is a big one. Large humbers of men have gone into the burning district from Pasadena, Azusa and other places, and Forest Commissioner Border has a brigade of sixty or more men at work with axes and shovels endeavoring to save the mountain covering…. A. P. Chipron of the Pacific cycle Company, accompanied by his brother and W. E. Bowies of Bowles Bros. & Co., all of Los Angeles, came down from Sturtevant’s camp this afternoon and went home. Mr. Chipron said that the camp is in no immediate danger at the present time, but there is not telling how soon it will be. “After the fire had spread up the sides of Big Santa Anita Cañon Sunday afternoon, and it was seen that it was coming in the direction of the camp, there was great excitement among the campers, especially among the women, in spite of the fact that the fire was still several miles away,” said Mr. Chipron last night. “The wind changed during Sunday afternoon and the fire took another direction, so the excitement subside, and nearly all the campers spent the afternoon and evening watching it. At night it presented a beautiful sight, and from our point of vantage, we could see the flames sweeping up the sides of the mountains. Quite a number of men in the camp did not go to bed at all Sunday night, but remained up to watch the progress of the flames. This morning it was thought that the fire had burned over the roads leading from the camp to the valley, and the fear that the roads were not open prevented a number of persons from coming away today. We started early and came over the road to Martin’s Camp. We found that it was open all the way, and had not been approached by the fire. We also found that the old trail is open, but the new trails is gone and cannot now be used. From Martin’s Camp a message was sent to Pasadena for all the horses and mules obtainable for use in moving the property at Camp Sturtevant . The smoke there this morning was terrible at times.” At a late hour last evening, Mr. Sturtevant telephoned from the camp that the fire-fighting forces had the flames well under control, and there was no danger that the conflagration would reach the camp. [Los Angeles Daily Times, July 24, 1900]

[99] 1900. Many Campers Fleeing from the Burning Mountains. Fire Spreading Slowly --- Difficulty of Securing Fire Fighters. PASADENA , July 24. ---[Regular Correspondence.] The fire in Big Santa Anita Cañon, although still spreading, is not as fierce as it was, and it is thought the force of fire fighters will have it under control in a short time. The difficulty of getting over the mountains, because of the lack of trails, makes the work of the rangers exceedingly slow, and in order to fight the flames effectively they are compelled to make wide detours to points on the mountains above the flames and from there start back-fires. Fire breaks on the sides of the hills are not effective in stopping the progress of the flames and little can be done in this direction except on the ridges. About seventy-five men are now at work with shovels and axes, and additional forces will go up
Wednesday…. The proprietors of Sturtevant’s Camp said today that the fire would undoubtedly be stopped within several miles of their camp, and that they do not look for any trouble. If worst comes to worst, they say they will start back-fires from their camp, thus protecting their patrons and saving their buildings and tents from destruction. Mr. Sturtevant, who is an old mountaineer, is looking after the interests of his camp, and is aiding in the work of fighting the fire. His trip from Sierra Madre to the camp last Sunday, goingn over the ten-mile trail in three hours, right through the fire, is spoken of as a marvelous achievement. Naturally there is much excitement at the camp, and some of the more timid are leaving, but many are remaining despite some smoke and cinders. At Mar[t]in’s Camp it is reported tonight that the fire seems to be about three miles from Sturtevant’s, and that it does not appear to be making much headway. Last night the fire got over into the Little Santa Anita Cañon, but was subdued before it had made much progress. It started in that canon again today, but is burning only in spots that were burned over in recent years, and is destroying nothing but dead trees. Little trouble is anticipated from that source. John Hartwell, one of the best-posted mountaineers in this section, returned from Sturtevant’s Camp this evening and says he does not see how that camp can be saved, notwithstanding the fact that the camp is protected by fire breaks and back-firing can be resorted to. There is some difficulty in finding enough experienced men to fight the flames, and the forest commissioners are compelled to hire common laborers. The pay for the work is but 20 cents an hour, the labor is intensely fatiguing and unpleasant, and the danger of injury or death is great. One man from Pasadena was burned so severely in a mountain fire last year that he still receives treatment at the County Hospital . [Los Angeles Daily Times, July 25, 1900]

[100] 1900. Fire in the Mountains Still Burning Briskly. Camps not Out of Danger ---A Hand Badly Mutilated.. PASADENA , July 25. ---[Regular Correspondence.] The fire in Big Santa Anita Cañon shows no signs of abatement and from present indications will last for many days. It is slowly, but surely, making its way up the mountains, and the fire-fighters, so far, seem to have been unable to check the spread of the flames. An additional force of men left here today for the fire, and Commissioner Border and other forestry officers are exerting every effort to control the blaze. The walls of the cañon now are denuded of every vestige of growth, and those who returned today from the scene of the fire say the former green hillsides are vast expanses of blackened tree trunks and ash-covered and baked earth. The fire has not yet reached Sturtevant’s, but its nearness and threatening aspect have caused an exodus from that camp, and tonight the onoly persons there are the attendants and three or four invalids. A large party came down from Sturtevant’s this evening by way of Martin’s camp, and the new trail. James Coney, Jr., of Boston was one of the party. He said: “We left Sturtevant’s this morning and were the last of the guests to leave the resort. Everything at the camp is an excellent condition for fighting fire. Every bit of undergrowth is cleared away for a large area about the grounds; wide fire breaks have been cut, and preparations have been made for backfiring. The smoke and cinders were coming in pretty thick, and though the flames were still two or three miles away, we could not tell how soon the wind might change and cut off all chance ofd escape. As we passed up the trail toward Wilson ’s Peak, we could see the fire raging below us and we were not sorry we left when we did. All the baggage of the campers was left at Sturtevant’s and will be buried for protection should the flames get into the camp.” ...It is reported from Martin’s Camp tonight that the fire has reached the foot of Mount Zion in the Big Santa Anita Cañon, leaving but one ridge to cross before Sturtevant’s is reached, but the absence of wind has caused a lull in the fury of the flames and it is thought the rangers will be able to check it on the ridge. In Little Santa Anita Cañon the fire is burning briskly over small areas. Two men who went up the Mt. Wilson toll road today say the fire in the west fork of the cañon is very close to the junction of the old and new trails and that there is danger of its cutting off escape from Martin’s Camp, in which event campers at that resort would be compelled to make their way to the peak and down the other side. Fred Stein, the manager at Martin’s, does not think his camp is in danger, but says if it reaches there they can take refuge in a large tunnel. The ravages of this fire emphasize the need of better protection to the watersheds in the San Gabriel forest reserve and undoubtedly will hasten action by the government on the recommendations of Chief Forester Gifford pinchet, who visited the reserve two weeks ago. At that time Mr. Pinchet said ‘the most pressing need was the employment of one hundred rangers to cover the 550,000-acre reserve. These men would be employed seven months in the cutting fire breaks on the ridges, clearing out undergrowth, and building trails through the mountains so that every section could be reached readily by fire fighters. The remainder of the year, during the dry months, the rangers would patrol their respective districts, warning campers to use caution in the handling of fire, arresting violators of the stringent laws, and keeping a lookout for small blazes. When the range is fully protected Mr. Pinchet thinks it will be well to begin the work of reforestation. He announced his intention of laying the matter before the Washington authorities at once. [ Los Angeles Daily Times, July 26, 1900 ]

[101] 1900. Fire Threatens Wilson ’s Peak and Eaton’s Canyon. PASADENA , July 27. ---[Regular Correspondence.] Ranger Thomas reported from Sierra Madre this afternon [sic] that the fire in the Big Santa Anita Cañon was under control and that he thought it would do little more damage. Fred Stein, manager at Martin’s Camp, thinks differently, however, and this afternoon he telephoned for a force of men to go to that camp to check the fire which was threatening to spread to Wilson’s Peak and from there into Easton’s Cañon. Superintendent Kuhrts of the electric line left at once with eight men, and others went up later and are at Martin’s Camp tonight ready to go to work. Sturtevant’s Camp is apparently safe from destruction, but there are blazes of considerable size in the Little Santa Anita Cañon, and on Monrovia Peak . No one has come in from the scene of the fire today and the only reports are from long distance observers who are unable to tell accurately just where or how bad the fires are. Martin’s Camp reports that the fire threatens to run up the ridge between the old and new trails, in which event it would be almost impossible to save the camp and the covering of Wilson ’s Peak. Should the fire get over into Eaton’s Cañon Pasadena’s principal watershed would undoubtedly be devastated and the damage would be incalculable. Mr. Stein has made some caustic criticism of the manner in which the fire fighting has been conducted but the task of the rangers has been a difficult one and it has been impossible for them to secure many experienced men for the work. Numbers of men who went up soon exhausted themselves and were forced to give up. A striking example of the desperate situation was shown today, when the party for Martin’s Camp was being made up….[Los Angeles Daily Times, July 28, 1900]

[102] 1900. ‘O SAVE EATON’S CANYON. Fire Fighters try to Preserve the Source of Pasadena ’s Water Supply. MARTIN’S CAMP, MT. WILSON, July 28. ---At last the fire in the Big Santa Anita canyon. There must be nearly 100 men in the mountains fighting it. It reached within a mile of this place this morning, but further spread in this direction is expected. At one time it threatened Wilson ’s Peak. Strenuous efforts are being made to prevent its spread into Eaton canyon. This canyon is the principal watershed from which Pasadena receives its water supply, and the destruction of the timber in it would be a great blow to that city. This morning the fire was within half a mile of the ridge separating Eaton canyon from the burned district, but it was making no progress in that direction. Superintendent Kuhrts of the electric line in Pasadena is here to superintend the fire fighters who are trying to save Eaton’s canyon. His men are doing valiant service. Forest Ranger Thomas is also doing well. As seen from here Sturtevant’s Camp does not appear to be in danger. [The Los Angeles Record, July 28, 1900]

[103] 1900. ‘O SAVE EATON’S CANYON. Fire Fighters try to Preserve the Source of Pasadena ’s Water Supply. MARTIN’S CAMP, MT. WILSON, July 28. ---At last the fire in the Big Santa Anita canyon. There must be nearly 100 men in the mountains fighting it. It reached within a mile of this place this morning, but further spread in this direction is expected. At one time it threatened Wilson ’s Peak. Strenuous efforts are being made to prevent its spread into Eaton canyon. This canyon is the principal watershed from which Pasadena receives its water supply, and the destruction of the timber in it would be a great blow to that city. This morning the fire was within half a mile of the ridge separating Eaton canyon from the burned district, but it was making no progress in that direction. Superintendent Kuhrts of the electric line in Pasadena is here to superintend the fire fighters who are trying to save Eaton’s canyon. His men are doing valiant service. Forest Ranger Thomas is also doing well. As seen from here Sturtevant’s Camp does not appear to be in danger. [The Los Angeles Record, July 28, 1900]

[104] 1900. Fires in the Mountains Seem to Be Under Control. Camps Again Ready for Business… PASADENA , July 28. ---[Regular Correspondence.] Reports received tonight indicate that the fires in the mountains of the San Gabriel forest reserve are under control, and while a force of men still is engaged in fighting the flames, no more serious damage is looked for. The fire which seemed to threaten Wilson ’s Peak was fought successfully today by the force of men under Superintendent Kuhrts of the electric railway line, and the men returned tonight, being relieved, however, by a force of men from Los Angeles, who will remain on guard until all danger is past. In Big Santa Anita Cañon and on Monrovia Peak the fire still burns fitfully, but the prevalence of a heavy fog for the past two nights, and the calm which has followed the strong winds, seem to have aided the large force of men in their fight against the flames. … [Los Angeles Daily Times, July 29, 1900]

[105] 1900. Stoddard’s Canyon Fire. On Friday morning the fire had gone to the east, north and south from Cucamonga Point. The fire had gone over Ice House Canyon and Deer Canyon . Lytle Creek is only a few ranges away, and unless stopped by rain or smothered by its own ashes it will go on to the desert, which would in that event have destroyed the eastern half of the San Antonio water shed. The entire Cucamonga water-shed, the Lytle Creek water-shed and the mountains in the vicinity of the Cajon Pass. The loss in that case would be at the least calculation, one-third of the entire Southern Reserve… [Charles E. Rhone, Report No. I, in Kinney 1900]

[106] 1900. Leaping Flames. West Fork of the San Gabriel Menaced. Mountain Fire Still Spreading in Forest Reserve. Estimates of the burned area are hard to form with any degree of accuracy. Conservatively state, however, the flames have not penetrated into the mountains northward from the mouth of Big Santa Anita Cañon, where the fire had its origin, for a distance of more than five miles, and the extreme width of the fire belt, from east to west, is not more than eight miles at any point…. But the flames are still raging at two points with an energy that threatens to add may thousands of acres to the bare and blackened region. One point of danger is in the Little Santa Anita Cañon, where the flames, fanned by a brisk ocean breeze, yesterday seemed to break out anew… [Los Angeles Daily Times, August 3, 1900]

[107] 1900. Fires Leaping On. Life Reported Lost - Big Tejunga Being Denuded---Bad News from the Forest Reserve Last Night. The mountain fires in the San Gabriel forest reserve are still ranging with unabated fury, according to latest reports from the scene of conflagration. Mr. Gable reported that when he left Colby’s Camp in the Big Tejunga, at 11 30 o’clock yesterday, three distinct fires were raging, with a total fire line at least fifteen or eighteen miles in length… [Los Angeles Daily Times, August 30, 1900]

[108] 1900. In 1900 a very serious fire occurred, starting from a steam well boring rig on the Baldwin Ranch at the mouth of the mouth of the Big Santa Anita. It burned out the entire Big Santa Anita, except around Mt. Wilson, and Sturtevant’s Camp, where a determined stand was made by the Forestry Department. It burned out all of the Little Santa Anita, parts of Kinney Creek, and the summit of Mt. Harvard . It crossed the west fork of San Gabriel near the head and swept north to Barley and Pine Flats, going down the Tujunga almost to Colby’s Ranch. It was known as the “Big Fire” and cost the Government nineteen thousand dollars to suppress, and burned twenty-two thousand acres. A force of one hundred and fifty men was employed on it for nearly three months. The weaknesses on this fire were lack of trails to get into the back country, lack of adequate man-power and transportation facilities… [Mendenhall 1930, p. 6 of unpublished manuscript]


Barrett, L. A. 1935. A record of forest and field fires in California from the days of the early explorers to the creation of the forest reserves. USDA Forest Service, San Francisco, California, USA.

Brown, W. S. 1945. History of the Los Padres National Forest, 1898-1945. USDA Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest, Goleta, California, USA.

Kinney, A. 1900. Forest and water. Post Publishing Company, Los Angeles, California, USA.

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