Monday, September 23, 2013

1913 - Hundreds Flee Napa Fires

The San Francisco Call
September 23 1913

Hungry Flames Spread over 20 Miles,
Burning Vineyards and Ranches

Resort Guests Run for their Lives--Napa Soda Springs
and Wilson's Inn Will be Saved--Four Counties are
Battling Against the Devastating Element
Jack London Leads Fighters

Disastrous forest fires are devastating the fertile ranches in upper Napa and Sonoma counties, and in the Santa Cruz mountains a wavering fire is threatening the big trees.

The most serious of the fires is in the northeastern part of Napa county.  A strip twenty miles long and five miles wide has been devastated.  Twenty ranch houses have been burned and as many orchards and vineyards totally destroyed.

Two big summer resorts, Wilson's Inn and the Napa Soda Springs, were threatened for a time, and the visitors sent to Napa.  Both will be saved.

Two big fires are raging in Sonoma county.  In Alexander valley the Llewellyn ranch, the wealthiest in the county, is in the path of a fire which has burned over a strip 12 miles long and a mile and a half wide.  A second fire is burning over Giant peak near the famous Geysers' resort.  Latest reports do not indicate the Geysers will be in serious danger.  A large force is protecting the resort.


Napa, Sept 23--With a district 20 miles long and five miles wide devastated, and wild flames beyond control sweeping the district around the Napa Soda Springs, Napa county is today suffering from the most disastrous forest and grass fire since its settlement.  Twenty ranch houses have been wiped out and fertile vineyards and orchards in the Capell, Foss and Wooden Valleys and Milliken canyon destroyed.

Volunteers from all of the town of the northeast section of the county are fighting the flames.  The visitors to the soda springs and Wilson's Inn, the county's famous summer resorts, have been driven to this city, Wilsons Inn was saved last night after an heroic battle by 200 men, in which many became exhausted.


The soda springs is this morning surrounded by flames which are eating through the fertile Milliken canyon to the east.  Seven hundred men are fighting the flames at this end.

Among the ranches which have been wiped out are those of John Hammond, Louis McManus and Henry W. Murray in Foss Valley, and the wine cellar and establishment of A. Rossi near the Soda Springs.

The fire started near the ranches of John Rowley and John Galbraith in Capell valley, the northeast edge of the county, early yesterday.  Through the day it spread down through the Foss valley on to the Napa Soda Springs, Wilson's inn, near Atlas peak, Foss valley, was reached by the flames during the night, but backfiring saved the resort.

A heavy north wind springing up at midnight drove the flames southward at a terrific rate.


Santa Cruz, Sept 23--The fire on the slope of Mount Hermon, endangering the Tremont grove of big trees, was temporarily under control last night by the 221 fire fighters, but at 8 o'clock this morning swept back toward the big trees.  At 9 o'clock the Southern Pacific fire fighters reported that they had corralled the flames and again saved the grove.

More than three square miles have been burned over and the flames are now working toward Rincon station and the Du Pont de Nemours powder works.

The big basin grove was threatened this morning by destruction, the fire sweeping toward it unchecked.

The fire was started early yesterday by campers on the side of Mount Hermon, according to investigation by the Southern Pacific.  The flames crossed the wagon road in two places and are now about three-quarters of a mile from the railroad.


Oroville, Sept 23--Half of the historic old mining town of Forbestown was laid waste yesterday afternoon by a fire originating in the Goldbank hotel.  Fanned by a terrific wind, the hotel, a church, store, postoffice, lumber yard, nine residences and three barns were wiped out.  The volunteer fire fighters, without apparatus and with hardly any water, made a heroic effort to stop the flames.  Forest rangers took charge of the fight
and the fire was under control at 5 o'clock.  Forbestown is 15 miles from Oroville.


Jack London
Glen Ellen, Sept 23--Leading a big squad of volunteer fire fighters Jack London, enacted the role of a hero yesterday in checking a wild forest fire on the hills which menaced Glen Ellen.  After a hard fight along the Sonoma creek, which exhausted London and all the volunteers, by back firing they succeeded in diverting the blaze and saving the town.

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