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 â€śa heroic effort to save the lookout.â€ť 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 â€śrestoring fire lookouts and other historic facilities in accordance with all government and historical standards and guidelines,â€ť 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.
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