The Good Old Days and Fire in Nevada County (edited)

Russ Steele

When I was very young the area we know as Forest Knolls was covered with buck brush. There were few trees except some burnt snags,  as the area had been burned over in the 30s. Shortly after we moved up on Banner Lava Cap in the 1950s, where my parents build a house on what had been part of the Thomas Ranch, Aunt Margs pump house on Wolf Creek spring caught fire and burned up the hill toward Idaho Maryland. My mother and aunt Hazel grabbed a shovel, and my grandmother called CDF and all the neighbors. Everyone rushed to build a fire line. Soon CDF arrived and took over the fire fight.  In the 1940s and 1950s in the summer everyone was required to carry a shovel or fire rake and fire ax in the truck of their car, or back of their pick-up truck. Citizens were the first line of defense against fire until CDF or Forest Service fire crews showed up.

When we move back to Nevada County in the 1980s there was volunteer fire house on Banner Lava Cap, not far from where we were building our house. We felt much safer than we had been in the 40s and 50s.  One of the big events every year was the annual spaghetti feed, where the volunteers and the women’s auxiliary cooked up a great meal,  of spaghetti, green salad, and garlic bread.  It was a very popular fund raiser.

That was then and now there are fewer volunteers and the women’s auxiliary is history.

As the county population grew older, and housing prices went up and many young people who could server as volunteer left the community. As the pool of potential volunteers declined, it became harder and harder to find those much needed volunteers, especially as the training required grew into a major commitment.

Today the Banner Lava Cap fire house is manned by paid Consolidated firemen, that is when there is enough money to pay their salaries.  When the firehouse on Banner Lava Cap is not manned, “browned out” our level of concern goes up. We are more vulnerable, as many of us living on Banner Mt are now much older now and in no position to start building a fire line until help arrives.  And, I am sure that our insurance company will soon discover that we no longer have full time fire coverage and they will be raising our rates.

As a strong conservative I am not one to promote more taxes, but I am going to support Consolidated’s special tax ballot. My vote for the dollar a week tax will be a payment against higher fire insurance rates, which could go up by $200 dollars, according to one report.

Yes, in the good old day we had a strong volunteer fire fighting team and a very active women’s auxiliary who raised funds for the team. But, now we are older and less capable and must hire our replacements on the fire line. Please do your part and support the Consolidated Fire Districts special tax.


About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

One Response to The Good Old Days and Fire in Nevada County (edited)

  1. gjrebane says:

    Well said Russ. I too will support this little tax increase as matter of personal fiscal and fire safety prudence.

    ps. Was that brush covered area really called “Forest Knowles” or was it Forest Knolls?

    George, it was Knolls. Corrected. Thanks.

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