By Bill Pumford, Image from the Russ Keller Collection
TITLE: 1980 PANORAMA FIRE: People living in these mountains are always aware of the possibility of forest fires. One of the largest forest fires in our area was the Panorama Fire which started on November 24th near Panorama Point and was suspected to have been started by an arsonist. The weather was ideal for the growth of the fire including low humidity and 90 mph winds, which pushed the fire to more than 8,000 acres by the next day. In addition to the Panorama Fire, fires also broke out in Highland and Mt. Baldy, which drained fire resources. For the Panorama Fire, the fire crept up and down the mountain depending on the direction of the winds, which sometimes shifted, in addition to throwing embers all over the mountain. This week’s image shows the Cliffhanger being protected by firefighters on the roof as well as in front of the structure. The fire did get close to the Arrowhead Springs property that, at that time, was owned by Campus Crusade for Christ but was properly protected by their staff. In Upper Crestline, Skyland, and Arrowhead Highlands more than 100 people evacuated but many other residents remained in their homes. The evacuees spent their first night in a cold, abandoned clubhouse but soon relocated to the camp at Thousand Pines. On Thursday, November 27th Thanksgiving dinner was provided to the evacuees by several commercial entities in the tight-knit community including Goodwins and Sons’ Market and Chicken Smith’s in Crestline, and Johnnie’s Market in VOE. By Saturday the 29th the fire was 100% contained, aided by better weather. The Panorama Fire left four people dead, numerous injured, upwards of 300 homes destroyed, and nearly 25,000 acres burned. The fire had extended nearly as far west as Devore and as far north as Crestline where it had briefly crossed Highway 18 a couple of times.