Gorda-Rat Creek Fire, part 3 (final)

We got as far North as the Lopez Point house one dark night and worked in the dark with chainsaws cutting a break around the cabin. We hit an old barbed wire fence that ran in the brush we were trying to cut that caused us all sorts of problems. Another incident I remember is coming on to Lucia worker’s housing and finding that the employees had started a back fire not knowing what they were doing. We had to put it out and I saw that the grass around their cabin had been cut but not raked and the main fire was getting close. I asked the workers to pick up a couple of McClouds and rake off their yard. They refused, saying they only worked there and it wasn’t their job. I looked at PB and he looked at me and I yelled out to everyone to load up, that we were going back to Gorda for hot showers and cold beer since these assholes didn’t want to help us save their belongings.—They changed their minds!

Then we went up to John Harlan’s place where his son Keith had cut a two blade line around the home. Aunt LuLu’s place was burning but it looked like John’s was defendable when some unique winds came down on the fire. It spread the fire and actually caused some small tornado like action of the fire which scared the heck out of me! I’d never seen fire do that! —- I asked John Moltini what he would do if he was responsible for a bunch of untrained folk and he said he would leave. He didn’t have to say it twice!—-We left but those that stayed were able to save John’s home.

At one point we were on Gorda Mountain and the fire was on the ridge above it to the North . Joe Cicoski had a secret cabin on the lower part of the Mt. and he asked if I could help him do some fire clearance around it after dark one night. Jim Cook (Captain Cook) and I had been working with Joe one day a week clearing an old access road on the bottom of his property. The County would not allow him to use equipment to do the job but said it was OK if we did it by hand. Since Joe didn’t want anyone to know about his secret cabin I grabbed Jim and Tall Cliff to help clear and save the cabin. It was after midnight when we heard the clank clank of a Big piece of equipment down by the highway. Joe said he was going to check it out and we just kept working. The clank clank got louder and louder and soon here come Joe leading a D-9 up the hill. He got his road and his clearance in less than an hour that night. —for free!

We got up to the Withrow place (Nacarubi) but I don’t remember doing much up there but since it was last on the list and I was pretty worn out. I’m sure I’m forgetting something or other. —-Things calmed down and we went back to normal and I started to pump gas at Gorda again, my normal job besides my Jade Shop.—- When we were fighting fire I asked the guys to respect the fact that I had signed for the equipment and was responsible to return it. I also had encouraged them to pick up any available tool when we packed up and went to our next location.——Mike Pressmeyer, a Forest Service Law Enforcement guy came by one day while I was pumping gas with several sheets of paper in his hand. He said I was responsible for all the tools on his list and where were they? I told him they were in the back room of the station house and that I was busy but to help himself. He looked confused after awhile and asked what was up? He said,” You signed out for 6 McClouds and you have 9, signed out for 7 polaski’s and you have 10, he went on and on. I’m pretty sure he thought we would not have what we had signed out for, let alone more.—-He then did a really nice thing and told me that he would only take back what we had signed for and anything extra could go to help start our South Coast part of the Big Sur Brigade—-and it did!  —–k.c.

I know I’ve forgotten a bunch and I am sorry to those who I did not remember but I know that most of what I said here has a semblance of truth—-take it for what it is worth—-it’s been 33 years and I lost my notes.—-k.c.