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About The Oregon daily journal. (Portland, Or.) 1902-1972 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 3, 1911)
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ED I T O R I A L
.PORTLAND, OREGON, SUNDAY MORNING SEPTEMBER 3, 1911.
When Rangers Do Battle Against Forest Fires
An Intimate Review of the Dangers and Hardships Encountered by Men Who Serve the Government When the Forests Are
Threatened The Story of Fire-Ftghting on the Upper Reaches of the McKenzie River Last Year
Upper oval Work of the fir demon. Upper upright Forest ranger on his' lookout. Lower square Rangers starting on rounds of forests.
Lover oval Building government trails?
" By Franklin 8. Allen.
Eugene,- Or., Sent. 1. Although Lane
county, said to b tne most heavily tim
bered rea In the world, suffered heavy
fire lose last suirmer, she has experi
enced no loss at all from fire this year.
The credit must V Riven to the very ef
ficient system of patrol employed by
the government In the forest reserves,
by the large lumber corporations and by
the county itself. The government
rangers have a very perfect system,
and guards from lookout points during
the summer dry months watch practic
ally every acre of the forest. As soon
as they get sight of a fire communica
tion Is sent over the telephone, for in
sulated wires, strung along the ground,
connect every ranger's station and look
out point with .'.he forest supervisor's
office in Eugene, and a crew of men Is
sent over trails, which are being con
structed as a network through the for
ests. It is possible te successfully fight
the fire before it has gained much head
way. The dangers and hardships of fighting
forest fires are many. With the smoke
hanging about the mountains as a blan
ket, making it impossible for the ranger
to see 200 feet sway, giving the .help
less feeling of a man grouping about in
the dark, and with tire apparently on all
sides covering miles and miles, the help
lessness of man la apparent. t The story
told by John Morse, ranger In charge of
the McKensle Bridge station of the dia-
astrous Blue river fire last summer is
Patroliatf Large Areas.
'Tou can get sums Idea of the amount
: of territory I alone had to patrol when
I tell you that my district is as large
as many eastern counties, over 15 miles
i long by. 20 miles wide,, with almost
three fifths of it Inaccessible." said Mr.
Mors, "Consequently I was . not only
handicapped by th lack of, guards, but
in knowledge of the country as well.
It was under such conditions that I
went Into the Blue river fire.
"Owing 'to the dense smoke; patrol
from the lookout points was utterly im
practical, I was helpless and could not
even see the trees a few-hundred feet
below me. , Some time, if you want, to
knew how small ycu are, get on a look
out point in a. dense smoke and strain
your eyes for a sight of the opposite
hill. Look over the cliff on which you
- are standing and see no ground, nothing
. but the dull, leaden' gray of the impen
etrable smoke, and you will feel , the
most peculiar,' helpless sensation Imag
inable, especially if your business is to
detect and suppress fires. ' ' V
"August 17 the wind shifted -and 11ft-
ed the smoke. I believed that I should
start for the G000 foot lookout on Horse
Pasture mountain, which overlooks my
entire district. I stopped en route on
Owl's lookout, a small promontory . that
puts off from the main ridge. It was
at this point that I first sighted the fire
north of the Blue River mines. I was
30 miles from the fire that I could see
was already becoming serious. I re
traced my steps,' and traveled all that
day as fast as possible, considering the
heavy load of my pack horses, and
reached the old Kellly sheep camp that
night about 10 o'clock; having cov
ered nearly 40 mllee.
"At the sheep camp 1 employed Pat
Charles and a miner who had prospected
in the country where the fire was and
who saved us .much time by his know
ledge of the 'Indian trails. On the
morning, of August 11, with two pack
horses and a saddle horse we took the
old Indian trail and practically fought
our way within two miles of the fire
with the horses. Here it was neces
sary to leave the packer while Hawkin
son, the miner, and I endeavored to
learn the extent of the firs' and sought
water as. well as a route over which
we could bring In men and supplies.
Doing this, I left for Blue river and the
next morning returned to the fire with
six men. '
"Returning it waa necessary to cut
logs from the old trail and construct
fully a mile of new . trail' in order to get
the pack train in. By night camp was
located where we had found water the
day before. It was three days after I
first . sighted the fire before ' we could
commence our attack, and by the time
we began actual work the fire covered
600 or 600 acres and was traveling north
west up a ridge through an old "burn."
Directly above on the south side there
was a large body of green timber which
was threatened, consequently we began
our fire line on the crest of the ridge
a few hundred yards In advance of the
fir and 'trenched down the north aide
about 100 yards. As soon as we had
made the , trench in front of th main
fire- safe, we back-fired along the side
slopes to within about 100 yards of the
end , of the trench, then detailed four
men to patrol the back fir while the
rest of us made new trench. By pursu
ing this plan the middle of the afternoon
found us ' with over one-half mile of
fire line completed, backfired and prop
erly patrolled .by four men, and evi
dently safe. ' J.',".''.,.;' ,,' ' j'
', " ; . . : ;: Making- VrofTess. ' ! ' i ' .
"By. night time the main fire and out
defensive back-fires had burned together
on the crest of the ridge and had met!
in little tongues on the Mpper 'part of
the south slope. The next day condi
tions remained about the same and by
constructing more trench we lacked but
half a mile of surrounding the fire, and
thus under ordinary conditions there
would have been nothing to do but pa
trol the fire until the last snag had
fallen and the fire had died out. Such
was the condition on the evening of
August 2S. when I climbed the cliff on
the ridge near camp, where I sighted a
flro on the south fork of the MrKen
zle near Cougar creek. ' Studying the
situation a few moments I determined
to leave the Blue river fire In charge
of the miner, and that night I started
over the rough mountain trail, until I
reached the Blue river road and made
my way to the south fork of the Mo
Kenzle. "As I rode that night I could feel
the wind rising and knew that Haw
klnson would have trouble In preventing
the Blue river fire from breaking out
again. On the morning of August 24,
the east wind of the preceedlng night
devrped Into a terrific gale. Mean
time the crew under Hawklnson held
the fire line all day by constant work,
but late at night, with the men dead
tired, the fire, the live coals and spark
soon formed a second fire even more
serious than the first, with all the
trenches useless. At 2 o'clock In the
morning of August 26 the men, beaten,
weary and discouraged, were forced to
abandon their camp, barely having time
to bury their outflta.
Fleeing- for Safety.
'f 6u know the average person In
considering what he would do in case
of a foreat fire figures from the stand
point that he Is always fresh, unwear
ied and clear handed, but It usually
works 0ut Just the opposite, and in this
case the - men were about exhausted
when they were forced to flee for eafo-
ty. Hawklnson realized the seriousness
of the situation and saw that their
Only chance lay up a steep ridge that
apparently ran into the very head of
the main fire. And It was only after
threatening to leave them to their own
resources that Hawklnson Induced them
to follow him.
"New fire was gaining strength on
all sides except to the northwest, but
In that direction they would be travel
ing with the fire and It would only be
a matter of time until they would be
overtaken. Hence ha realised that they
must out-travel the fire. In the gulch
below and round Its head before the fire
cut them- off. He told me afterward
that he never before had known what
real exhaustion meant. When he final
ly rounded the fire It was not more than
200 feet below him. All the crew but
one' had rounded the head before Hawk
lnson. ' This nan la a naif erased eon.
dltlon gave up the fight and was half
dragged, half carried over logs and
brush by Pat Charles, the packer,, to a
point on the ridge half k mile abov
camp. From the top of the ridge Hawk
Inson's knowledge of trials and short
cuts allowed them more speed, but It
was not until 8 o'clock In the morning
that they felt themselves safe and they
did not reach Blue river until late In
Hurrying Ken to fires.
"I was on the South Fork of the
McKensle, 25 miles distant, organising
the work on Cougar creek when a mes
senger came from Hawklnson, Imme
diately I returned with the messenger
to the road -and telephoned to the su
pervisor in Eugene vfor 30 men. These
were rushed immediately by automobiles
to the town of Blue river, 20 miles from
the fire, where they arrived on the eve
ning of August 26.
, "Hawklnson had succeeded in getting
around the greater part of the fire the
day before and reported It burning
slowly In most places and having little
If any direction. I divided Uie men into
three crews, with each crew divided into
shifts; the . night , shift to patrol the
fire line built by the day shift. For
the next week trials were systematically
built and rebuilt by crews equally dis
tributed about the three or four prin
cipal fires. The wind for the greater
part of the time was favorable and the
men accomplished irrtich.
"For the nextA three days it was
doubtful whether we would be able to
hold the fire within the lines. However,
conditions were favorable for fighting
the fire, and the men seemed fo have
developed a spirit of battle, and fought
with an energy that indicated a per
sonal Interest In the conflict. To' short
en the story, the trenches held and
September 11 rains fell and the foreat
fire season was over.".
Cider Vinegar Must Go.
The astonishing revelation is made
that pure-rood legislation has produced
a monopoly In an Inferior product. ' The
agricultural law of New York prohibits
the sale of vinegar which has not an
acldlty'equivalent to the presence of at
least 4H per cent, by weight, of abso
lute acetic acid. Since acidity is most
desirable In Vinegar, this seems to be a
proper requirement; but pure apple
cider, vinegar. It is said, will not de
velop this, amount of acetic acid.- In
any . event. It la without question that
all pure apple cider will not do so, for
there are la the. cellars of farmers all
over the state thousands of barrels of
such -vinegar which cannot be but on the
market because of this peculiar kink in
ma agricultural law.
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Store Closed Tomoirro w
Sec Tomorrow's Papers for Next Week's
Program at tlie Big Store Ttie news will be of
vllal Interest to all who study True Economy
Get tne Paper, Early-Read Every Word
The Demand lor
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The Piano Question???!
Solve it by buying
of the manufactur
er direct. Save the
Bush & Lane Piano Co.
are the only manu
direct with you in (
this city. You pay i
only one profit.
Yon positively buy
as a dealer buys
at wholesale. Do
not take our word
for it compare.
You be the judge.
Terms to suit your
Foster & Klleser
High Gade Commercial and Klrctrt
Bast TU snd Sasi Bvsrst ta,
Vkooss Ssst 111 1 1 B-aaa
Astoria and Return. Daily
DURING ASTORIA CENTENNIAL and REGATTA
Leaves Jutland 7 a. m.
Arrives Astoria 1 p. m.
Leaves Astoria '4 p. m.
Arrives Portland 11 p.m.
FARE, $1.00, EACH WAY
WASHINGTON ST. DOCK MARSHALL 1979
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