Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

A small group in front of lookout tower displays a plaque.

From left to right: Larry Smith, Captain of Engine 51 in Kings Canyon National Parks, Wendy Garton, Volunteer Coordinator for Buck Rock Foundation, Kathy Allison, President of Buck Rock Foundation, and John Ziegler, District Fire Management Officer for Kings Canyon National Park, display the plaque and certificate honoring Park Ridge Lookout as the most recent addition to the National Historic Lookout Register. NPS photo.

Park Ridge Lookout Added to National Historic Lookout Register

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

On Saturday, August 3, 2013, thirty people gathered at a ceremony at Park Ridge Lookout in Kings Canyon National Park to honor the recent addition of the lookout to the National Historic Lookout Register.

Park Ridge Lookout was established in 1916 as an open-air platform with a lean-to shelter. In 1934 a classic two-story wooden lookout was built, but was replaced in 1964 by a 20-foot high, 14-by-14 foot steel tower, which remains in place today.

Chris Fabbro, the Sierra Nevada Chapter Director for the Forest Fire Lookout Association, presented a National Historic Lookout Register certificate and a plaque to John Ziegler, Kings Canyon District Fire Management Officer, and Larry Smith, Engine 51 Captain at Kings Canyon National Park.

The Park Ridge Lookout ceremony also included a brief presentation on the history of lookouts in the United States and of Park Ridge Lookout by Kathy Allison, President of the Buck Rock Foundation. Buck Rock Foundation coordinates volunteer staffing at Buck Rock, Park Ridge, and Delilah lookouts and is dedicated to the preservation of fire lookouts for fire detection, education, and historic preservation goals.

A group seated near the lookout listens to a speaker.

Wendy Garton, Volunteer Coordinator for Buck Rock Foundation, speaks at the Park Ridge Lookout ceremony about the volunteer firewatcher program that has enabled continued staffing of Park Ridge Lookout. NPS photo.

In addition, Kay Coffin, daughter of long-time Park Ridge fire watcher Mattie Sims told stories about living in the lookout during summers of her childhood. Wendy Garton, Volunteer Coordinator for Buck Rock Foundation, talked about the successful and enthusiastic program to staff Park Ridge with volunteers since 2004.

The celebration offered educational opportunities, with a ranger-led interpretive hike from Panorama Point to Park Ridge with National Park Service (NPS) Interpreter Dominic Papia, information provided about firefighting and fire ecology at the Panoramic Point trailhead by NPS fire staff, and tours of the lookout by Buck Rock Foundation Volunteer Firewatchers.

Buck Rock Foundation took the lead in collaboration with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in nominating Park Ridge Lookout for the National Historic Lookout Register. This lookout remains a valuable fire detection, educational, and historic resource for the National Park Service.

Contact: Linda Mutch

E-mail: linda_mutch@nps.gov

Phone: (559) 565-3703