DECKER FIRE - AUGUST 8, 1959 - SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA - SEVEN DEAD, SIX FIREFIGHTER
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
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
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
winds. The fire began to build heat and soon raged out of control, Eventually killing 6 Firefighters and burning dozens of
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.
Lessons Learned .PDF: http://www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Decker_Fire_1959.pdf.
The Decker Fire Memorial is located in Riverside Co. at 32353 Ortega Hwy, Lake
Elsinore (El Cariso Village), CA 92530 .