"With the cinders and ashes falling all around him, and so dark that he could not see his horse's head at three o'clock in the afternoon, [Barringer] rode up to the face of the fire?[and] collected his scattered crews?." - Elers Koch, Forest Supervisor
Only five years old when the fires struck, the fledgling U.S. Forest Service had no organized fire crews, relying instead on the young rangers committed to protecting the nation's new National Forests. They hired any able-bodied man from the logging and railroad crews, even knocked on doors to beg men to join the fight. They recruited immigrants right off the trains and gathered inmates from local jails.
It was never enough. The fires chased men from camps, blinded their horses and blocked their escapes. Crews huddled in creek bottoms and holes in the ground and hid in caves desperately seeking a place to save themselves from the deadly heat and gas in the scorching fire. These young courageous men did all they could but were fighting against a force of nature in a battle that could not be won.
As you see the burned snags and open meadows that now exist where hearty stands of trees were consumed in the inferno, remember those brave men. They walked here, too.