Help Rebuild the Needles Outlook
On July 28, 2011, the famous fire lookout at The Needles in Sequoia National Forest was destroyed by fire. Margee Kelly, the USFS Forestry Technician who has made the tower her residence for more than twenty summers, baking cookies for thousands of Needle's climbers, escaped safely, but the lookout is a total loss.
An ember from the wood stove landed on the shake roof of The Needles Fire Lookout sparking a fire that quickly spread along the roof and eventually into the attic. Grabbing the fire extinguisher Margee fought to put the fire out, even climbing up on a ladder placed on the catwalk in an attempt to get closer to the blaze.
Sequoia Forest Helicopter 522 launched from the Peppermint Helibase in a matter of minutes dropping several buckets of water on the structure in what Margee calls “a heroic effort to save the lookout.” Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain.
At this time the US Forest service and Giant Sequoia National Monument officials are considering rebuilding the lookout. The Buck Rock Foundation
, a non-profit organization whose mission statement includes “restoring fire lookouts and other historic facilities in accordance with all government and historical standards and guidelines,” can serve as a clearinghouse for contributions but this effort cannot proceed until the Forest Service makes its decision regarding the fate of the lookout.
Since its construction in 1938 The Needles Lookout has been visited by many thousands of climbers, hikers, naturalists, photographers and scientists among others due to its unique position high atop The Magician Needle. Many visiting climbers from around the world have had their first good look at The Needles from the tower, and have gained valuable information from the old guidebooks and maps kept there.
Please write to the District Ranger for The Western Divide Ranger District and also to the Supervisor of Sequoia National Forest. Climbers input into rebuilding the structure will undoubtedly expedite the process.
District Ranger Priscilla Summers
Western Divide Ranger District
32588 Highway 190
Springville, CA 93265
Sequoia National Forest Supervisor Deb Whitman
1839 South Newcomb Street
Porterville, CA 93257
For more information check out the Supertopo thread
as well as the Buck Rock home page
Labels: Margee Kelly, The Needles, US Forest Service fire