Some say the world will end with fire.

Others say with ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate,

To say that for destruction ice,

Is also great and would suffice.

Robert Frost


"Good things come to those who wait, but, only the things LEFT by those who hustle." - Unknown (at least by me)

"Life is wonderful, without it you are dead." - Hy "Pete" Peterson - Park City and Kenecott Miner

"Don't worry about those people in your past---there is a reason they are not in your present." - Unknown

"Life's tough - it's even tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!" - Vince Lombardi

"If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re probably taking up too much space.” ~ Attributed to Jim Whittaker by Doug ‘Swani’ Swantner, Alaska Smokejumper and Air Attack Base Manager (Ret.)

About Me

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I am married and have seven children and twenty grandchildren. I retired January 1, 2010 after working 39+ years for the Forest Service...NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE HAS BEGUN!

Friday, April 2, 2010


I stole this picture from a friends face book last night. I wish I knew how to make it screen size. It is of the 1993 Malibu Fire and the picture was taken by a Boise BLM Smoke Jumper from Santa Monica Beach where they were bedded down. My friend was the Air Ops Branch Director on this fire. I was a field observer in Topanga Canyon. This picture is of the fire burning in and through Topanga Canyon. Many of you that have worked with me have heard me talk about the fire comin' to town and about the houses (I have called them the upright fuel type) just being totally involved in the fire in an instant---almost like they exploded. This is the fire that discussion comes from. I was in front of this fire watching about 100 homes per hour go up in the conflagration.
As I moved south and west I was just in awe at how each building was there and then it was totally engulfed in flames. I was also in awe that you could see the flames moving around inside the buildings through the walls. It was impressive, it was scary, it was the single greatest display of fire I have ever seen. During this night houses burned at the rate of about 100 structures per hour. Many of the homes were owned by movie stars (several million dollar value homes) and some were owned by just normal people (half a million dollar value homes). The fire didn't care it burned them all the same and involved them in the fire just as quickly. My job was to monitor and report on the advance of the fire to make sure the fire team in charge of it knew what was going on in the front so they could evauate the public and the firefighters in a timely manner.
Through the night the evacuation rate was about 1.5 miles per hour. Everyone inside that 1.5 miles had to be moved---it was a monstrous job---my hat is off to the Sheriff and his organization for being able to pull it off. Eventually I was on Malibu Beach and totally safe. I have joked a lot since then about having the best escape route and safety zone of my career on this fire. I was absolutely sure I was safe and that the escape route and safety zone would not burn. It would be pretty tough to ignite the PACIFIC OCEAN.


Looney said...

My main memory was the Oakland Hills fire, but we get these every year.

Dee Ice Hole said...

I know you get them every year but I don't think there has ever been a more devastating fire than the Malibu fire (note I don't think). All I really know is that I have fought many, many fires, but I have never spent as much time on the run as I did on this one. I never got out of the rig and never shut it off because I was afraid it wouldn't start again if I needed to get out.

Dee Ice Hole said...

I decided to google the two fires and Looney the Oakland Hills fire was worse---it burned 3354 single family units and 437 apartments---the Malibu fire only burned 388 single family structures many of which were mansions. Note this is the same canyon where Suzanne Summers lost her mansion in 2007 to a wildfire.

Must have just seemed worse to me because I was personally involved and many of us still talk about this fire as the fight of our lives.