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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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August 23, 2017     Feather River Bulletin
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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017 1B INSIDE SECTION B: EI)ITOR1AL OPINIONS UPCOMING EVENTS Looking north from Pegleg Lookout over McCoy Flat Reservoir and beyond, it becomes very apparent why manned facilities like these are crucial to rapid fire detection. Fire spotters are so familiar with the terrain surrounding their locations they have little trouble pinpointing smoke using triangulation with 'other towers. Tour pieces of history Gregg Scott Staff Writer gsco~@plumasnews.com If you are a history buff or just spend a lot of time in the surrounding forests, there is an event coming up Friday, Sept. B, through Sunday, Sept. 10, which may be of interest. The Forest Fire Lookout Association is holding its Western Region Conference in Chester and over the three days will incorporate numerous speakers, displays and tours of several of, the Lessen National Forest lookouts. In-town events will be held at the Chester Memorial Hall with registration beginning at 1 p.m., Friday, Sept. 8. Conference coordinator Vickie Lamoureuxstressed that ~ere will be association members attending from across the U.S. and Canada. "There will be a wealth of information and many stories about long past and current history of our nations lookouts," Lamoureux said and she should know. Lamoureux decided to become a fire lookout after visiting the Hopi Fire Tower near the Grand Canyon. Thirty-four years later, she is still at R and for the past three years has been assigned to Pegleg Lookout just a short distance from Westwood. Pegleg was originally built in 1913 and then replaced in 1984 with a new structttre. The construction of the new structure was unique in that it was prefabricated and put together with prison inmate labor. Each part was then labeled, dismantled and shipped to the site where it was reassembled. A replica of the original Pegleg Lookout can be seen as a display at the Lassen County Fairgrounds. Forest fire lookouts have been an integral part of fire detection and suppression in this country's forests for many years. There are numerous references about old lookouts in books and on the Internet, but as a historical base, the data listed on the United States Forest Service history site is used. These records indicate that, "Following the devastating f'n'es of 1910, early fire detection became a priority within the Forest Service. To help aid detection, lookout towers began to be built on national forests throughout the country." The magnitude of this effort was overwhelming, not only because of the vast number that were needed, but also due to the remote locations and difficult conditions encountered in building on mountain tops. To help speed up the progress of building these much needed lookouts, crews from the Civilian Conservation Corps, part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program, were brought in to work on numerous lookout projects across the nation. As these new lookout sites were being constructed, an Oregon man by the name of William Osborne, Jr. invented an instrument called a "firemder" in 1911. He used a rotating steel disc with sighting mechanisms attached. The instrument allowed lookouts to accurately pinpoint the geographic location of forest See Lookout, page 11 B Gary Freeland is one of the eldest fire lookouts whose rookie year was in 1942. Freeland takes the time to explain how the firefinder he is standing next to operates when smoke is spotted. He puts the adventure of his fire lookout work on par with his gold prospecting adventures in Australia. Wayne Pease stands on the deck of the Mt. Hough Lookout that he has manned for 34 Minerva Fire he has been monitoring. Pease will share some of his experiences atthe Forest being held Sept. 8 through 10 in Chester. Photos by Gregg Scott years. Over his right shoulder is the Fire LOokout Association conference This is the Pegleg Lookout today, and any history buff will tell you there have been significant changes over the years. A replica of the previous tower can be seen at the Lassen County Fairgrounds. Standing atop the deck of Antelope Peak Lookout is 24-year-old Alicia Hinojose, the youngest and newest of the fire lookouts on the Lassen National Forest Not knowing anything about what the posiUon entailed when she accepted it, she was a bit apprehensive about the job, but now says she enjoys it tremendously and finds it very rewarding. #