JESSEE-L ArchivesArchiver > JESSEE > 2008-06 > 1213478852
From: "Jim Jessee" <>
Subject: Re: [JESSEE] Fires and Floods
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2008 14:27:32 -0700
Charlie and Family,
Thank you for your note and concerns. We too have been thinking
of our family across America with all the tornadoes and floods going on, not
to mention the earthquakes and fires. We are very concerned and very much
praying for all of us.
It is ironic that you should inquire first, from North Dakota
about the Humboldt Fire in Butte County, California, now threatening the
town of Paradise. The fire began Wednesday at about 12:15 pm, on Humboldt
Road, an old pioneer wagon road, that runs parallel to Hwy 32 out of Chico,
headed into the mountains toward Chester, and Butte Meadows, where we have a
summer cabin. My wife, Nelda's family has a cattle ranch up in Little
Chico Creek Canyon, which is called Stilson Canyon, the first canyon just
south and east of Humboldt Road.
Nelda's Aunt Lillian and Cousin Ron Hove from Adams, North Dakota, had
driven out here and they were having a family reunion on the Meline Ranch,
with Nelda's sister and brother in law from Oregon, her two brothers who
live on the Home Ranch, and take care of it (and their Mother before she
passed on last year). They were sitting down to lunch, when my brother in
law, from Oregon, said, "If I were at home, I would say I smell a grass
fire." They went out and spotted the fire up on top of the north canyon
rim, just off Humboldt road, just minutes after it started. We were having
wild winds, 35-40 miles per hour, and the smoke was blowing directly at the
Ranch House, and the humidity was down to 9-10%. Within 15 minutes the fires
was down the canyon wall to the floor and coming directly at their home,
horses, barns, corrals, vehicles, etc. In 30 minutes it was behind them,
across to the south side of Stilson Canyon, and had burned across their only
road out of the canyon, closing in on them from all directions.
The good news is that the first Fire Engine was there in the first 10
minutes, and 12 more engines joined them to save the ranch. Three borate
bombers, including a DC10, the largest in the West, which flew down from
Klamath Falls, Oregon, bombed the ranch along the trees that adjoined the
barn and corrals, and over their home, too. Nelda and her brother, who
along with all able bodies were putting out spot fires in the yard and
corral areas, were directly under one of the Borate runs, and were "slimed"
with pink goopy stuff from head to toe, and nearly knocked down by the force
of it. The fire fighters from just about every agency possible in the area
saved the Ranch buildings and an island of trees around part of them, but
the fire burned down to their yard on two sides. Nelda and the brothers
describe it as being in the middle of a fire storm, two of them are
volunteer firemen, too. The winds and heat were so intense. The ranch
continues to smolder, and their place has been the staging area for dozens
of engines, bull dozers, prison busses bringing fire fighters, etc.
Thus the Family and the North Dakota relatives lived through the first 3
hours of that fire and were in the middle of the first couple of 1000 acres
burned. The Meline Ranch Home was the first stand and buildings saved. Much
of their ranch burned, including a 100 year old Olive orchard. No animals
were lost nor anyone hurt, or any building lost, but all the ranch fences
and many of the trees are gone. They have quite a story to tell, as we have
now sent them off toward Oregon and Home. I will bet it gets into the Walsh
I was working that day, and when I learned about the fire, they were already
evacuating everyone else out of Stilson Canyon and would not let anyone go
in. Their ranch was still cut off by the fire itself, and debris from it on
the gravel road they have to get out. My wife and some of her family got
home that night once they cleared the road, but her brothers, are staying
on the homestead through thick and thin. We all stayed in contact through
cell phones, as the phone lines were burnt in the fire. For that constant
communication and the simply amazing Fire Department responses that saved
the Ranch and their lives, we are more than grateful.
Since those first hours, the fire then raged south and east, jumping three
more canyons, and getting into really major housing areas, like Paradise,
Butte Creek Canyon, Honey Run Road, Humbug and Humboldt Roads, and the Butte
College campus. It has now burned over 25,000 acres, and is about 35%
contained, today. This nightmare is not over. Stilson Canyon still has
several fire crews fighting hot spots and flare ups, since, and they have
kept a Fire Engine at the ranch. There are more than 60 homes lost, but no
lives, so far, and we are just so grateful for what we have.
Sure puts home and family and loved ones into perspective.
From: Charlie D Thompson [mailto:]
Sent: Saturday, June 14, 2008 10:30 AM
Subject: Fires and Floods
I have been following the fires and floods on the TV. These is
something. I once lived in Cedar Rapids Iowa for a few years. My oldest
grandchild was born there. I just located Paradise on my California map.
I simcerely hope that you and your family are in no danger. The best of
luck to you all.
My thoughts and prayers are with you