Longtime resident discusses Alpine wildfires

Featured speaker Nancy Thornburg will address the hot topic, "Fire!" 5:30 p.m. May 18 when the Historical Society of Alpine County convenes for their spring quarterly meeting at the community center building at Turtle Rock Park.

In 1986 and 1987, Alpine County residents' worst fears were realized when flames raced through their neighborhoods.

One hundred years before, a disastrous fire had destroyed most of Markleeville's wooden structures, and countless wildfires have occurred since then.

As a longtime resident, who married into a pioneer Markleeville family, Thornburg is concerned that new residents aren't fully aware of the dangerous fire conditions that can be caused by flammable fuels, down-canyon winds and lack of defensible space around residences.

She has been active in forestry and fire issues over a period of 30 years and is a member of the Alpine County Fire Safe Council.

Thornburg will show footage that she has converted and edited, via her computer, depicting the Fredericksburg Fire in 1986 and the Acorn Fire of 1987.

The Fredericksburg Fire, according to Thornburg, was caused by undetermined factors and sped downhill totally out of control in just nine minutes. The Acorn Fire, ultimately destroying 24 homes, was started by unknown careless persons and wasn't stopped until it reached the "fuel-less" area of the burned slopes of Fredericksburg.

"Fire!" should be circled in red on all calendars as a program not to be missed.

Member or not, anyone interested in Alpine County history is welcome to attend the potluck dinner and general membership meeting. The only requirement, in lieu of admission, is to bring a hot or cold contribution to dinner.

Alpine Historical Society members are known for their good cooking, so everyone can look forward to a delicious meal.

It never fails to amaze me that, though unplanned, the number and variety of salads seems to balance the offerings of proteins and carbohydrates.

A no-host bar will open at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 and the "Fire!" program at 7.

Alpine County pioneer family member and Historical Society President Gary Coyan is looking forward to completing a trio of long-term projects at the museum this summer; the stamp mill, blacksmith's shop and carriage shed.

"By volunteering to help fix up the museum, people can express their pride in their county's unique heritage, get some exercise and enjoy the company of their neighbors," Coyan said.

Residents who volunteer their time by serving on the Historical Society Board of Directors are Vice President, Irving Krauss; Secretary, Ernestine Fogarty; Treasurer, Dolores Clark; Directors, Bessie Platten, Wanda Coyan, Richard Specchio; and Past President, Mike Makley.

Other plans for improvement of the museum involve the Alpine County Public Works Department placing pavers over decomposed granite leading from the parking lot to the front porch of the museum, thereby avoiding mud being tracked into the building.

"We are looking forward to the re-opening of the museum for the season on Saturday, May 27 at 11 a.m.," said Alpine County Museum Director Dick Edwards.

n Gina Gigli is a Markleeville resident. Reach her at ginagigli@gbis.com


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment