"Vetter Mountain, In Service"

Day Three: An Education on Historical Fire-Fighting Tools

8:30 amAs I put up the shutters using the 2x4 for as a prop, the corner of one on the east side nearest the flagpole comes apart and slides down the 2x4 which saves me a big bump on the head. I'm glad that Don and George have worked out the procedures for opening and closing Vetter Mountain Lookout. May have been a big headache for them, but it sure saved me one. Thanks, gentlemen.
8:56 am"Angeles, Vetter Mountain, in service."
9:15 am I find the rubber gloves, lots of them, thanks to Pam's foresight and proceed to cleanup inside the cab: sticky drops of soda pop, grit and scuff from hiking boots, a great variety of dead insects--ants, wasps, beetles. I save the butterfly for future inspection and identification.
10:35 amTwo mountain bikers pump up the trail to the lookout because they see the flags flying. We look for the peaks they know, then talk about fire towers we've known. One looks in vain on the forest map, where George has marked the locations of all twenty-two on the Angeles, for a lookout he saw as a child in the Antelope Valley. It turns out to be Parker Mountain near Acton which was maintained by the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
10:50 amA thunderstorm brews to the east. Tropical moisture from the Gulf of California has met the mountains and is rising rapidly, forming giant, billowing cumulus beyond Wrightwood.
10:53 am I show the visitors about how lightning strikes are marked. It happens that one is a former Chilao Hotshot. He tells me it used to be that a plane was sent up to check the strikes and to make infrared photos which showed where the roots were burning underground. He went on to explain how the hand crew (the Hotshots) put out these fires. The really neat part was how they snaked up hill in a long, long line each using a different tool for a different job...tools with names like Pulaski and McLeod.

  • Smoke Chaser describes how part of the job of the lookout was to fight fires with tools like a shovel and a Pulaski.
  • The firefighter's best friend describes how the fire line worked. (Scroll down or use the find for "Pulaski").
12:35 pm I need to replace the horsehair in the Osborne as it was loose, therefore, crooked, but couldn't find the teeny-weeny screwdriver. A visitor has a small nail file we use. This time the visitor is my friend, Tom.
1:45 pmWe spend the early afternoon taking down the azimuths and elevations of all the visible peaks. By this time of day, with so much moisture in the air, even the top of Baldy is difficult to see. Lukens has long since been absorbed in the haze. We finish the full circle of peaks surrounding Vetter and I get some welcome help taking down the shutters for the day.

The results of Tom's analysis and a fine description of the Osborne Firefinder tool are here: Comparison of Calculated and Measured View Parameters From Vetter Mountain.

1:56 pm"Angeles, Vetter Mountain, out of service."
"Vetter Mountain, Angeles, confirm out of service."

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© Jane Strong, July 2000