El Cariso Hot Shots 1966

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Decker Fire - August 8, 1959



The Decker Fire started on the Ortega Highway, three miles west of Lake Elsinore Village, southeast of Los Angeles, California.
It was the result of an automobile accident which killed one person and critically burned another.
It started at about l800 hours on August 8, 1959 - The USFS units from El Cariso Station (three miles up the Ortega Highway) arrived first and began initial attack on the uphill side of the fire. CDF units arrived shortly after, beginning their attack on the lower portion of the fire.
This fire occurred in 1959, well before fire-resistant clothing and fire
shelters were mandatory. None of the firefighters involved in this accident were equipped with either fire-resistant clothing or fire shelters.
The tragedy occurred shortly after sundown, at the time of the breakdown in
down slope winds. The fire began to build heat and soon raged out of control, Eventually killing 6 Firefighters and burning dozens of others.

Dead included: Nelson Harlan, Steven Johnson, Boyd Edwards and Andrew Brooks of the El Cariso Hot Shots and El Cariso Engine; Ben Slater, District Ranger; and John Guthrie, CDF firefighter.


The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center web site at this link: http://www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Decker_Fire_1959.pdf

 contains a web page named "Decker Fire (1959)" with two Attachments.

(1) Decker_Fire_1959.pdf and (2) Decker Fire - Dynamics of a Catastrophy.pdf.

This article (2) is a 27 page .pdf document, "THE DYNAMICS OF A CATASTROPHY - THE DECKER WILDLAND FIRE OF 1959 by Julian C. Lee. 


The Decker Fire Memorial is located in Riverside Co. at 32353 Ortega Hwy, Lake Elsinore (El Cariso Village), CA 92530.


The Dynamics of A Catastrophy - The Decker Wildland Fire of 1959.