July 30, 2011

Needles Lookout Lost to Fire

Those that visit this site know that I am the volunteer leader for the Black Mountain Fire Lookout. Sherry calls it my timeshare tree-house, as I put in my hours and enjoy the benefits of a unique place at the top of the world. That being said, I have a special place in my heart for fire lookouts.

On Thursday, we lost an amazing fire lookout, in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, in the Sequoia National Forest.

The Needles lookout tower was built between 1937 and 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The tower overlooked Kern River Drainage, Mt. Whitney, Olancha Peak, Farewell Gap and Dome Rock.

According to the local fire department spokesperson, the tower staff had a fire going in the wood-burning fireplace when an ember escaped from the chimney and landed on the tower’s wood-shingle roof, catching the roof on fire. The Lookout staff member had worked in that tower every fire season for 25 years, hiking over two miles to get to work, with the last third of a mile being stairs across the granite peak.

It seems that we lose a couple towers every year, but I can't tell you when the last one was built.


Anonymous said...

Sad, I remember visiting this lookout tower in the summers of 2005 to 2009 when I was station at Lemoore Naval Air Station located approximately 50 miles northwest of Porterville. I loved going to this lookout tower.