El Cariso Hot Shots 1966

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In Memory


The Rock


According to Larry Sall, former Little Tujunga Hot Shot in 1970, the Kiwanis Club at sometime in the late 1960s, selected a boulder from the Loop Fire site and had a brass plaque attached, to honor the El Cariso Hot Shots who perished on the Loop Fire, November 1, 1966. It was located somewhere on Foothill Boulevard in San Fernando, and later moved to the Little Tujunga Station, 12371 North Little Tujunga Canyon Road, San Fernando, California, 91342. The Little T Hot Shots have become known as the “Keepers of the Rock”. The Loop Fire has also been referred to as “the Pacoima Canyon Fire” as noted on the plaque.  The brass plaque contains the following inscription:

Erected in memory to the twelve men of the El Cariso Hotshot Crew who gave their lives on November 1, 1966 in the Pacoima Canyon Fire.

James A. Moreland                            Fredrick Danner

Kenneth Barnhill                                William J. Waller

Michael R. White                               Carl J. Shilcutt

Stephen White                                    Daniel J. Moore

John Verdugo                                     Raymond Chee

John P. Figlo                                      Joel A. Hill


At the "Little T" Reunion, October 23, 2010

Photo Courtesy of Jerry Smith

El Cariso Park


This beautiful 79-acre park, the  El Cariso Community Regional Park, 13100 Hubbard Street, Sylmar, California, 91342, stands as a memorial to the young men who lost their lives on the Loop Fire, November 1, 1966, to those who survived and to firefighters everywhere.

Loop Fire 30th Anniversary Memorial

On November 1, 1966, 10 members of the El Cariso Hot Shots from the Cleveland National Forest lost their lives while fighting the Loop Fire on the Angeles National
Forest. Two died later as a result of injuries from the fire. As remembrance to those who perished and to those who survived, the Angeles and Cleveland National Forests dedicated a monument in the El Cariso Regional Park, Sylmar, California at 1300 hours on November 1, 1996.





                                     Loop Fire

This park and monument stand as a tribute to the young men who have lost their lives on the Loop Fire, to those who survived, and to the Firefighters everywhere.

                                                     Forever Honored
                                   Those Who Lost Their Lives

                       Raymond Chee  Age 23                 Steven White  Age 18
                       James Moreland  Age 22              Carl Shilcutt  Age 26
                       Michael White  Age 20                 John Verdugo  Age 19
                       John Figlo  Age 18                         Daniel Moore  Age 21
                       William Waller  Age 21                 Kenneth Barnhill  Age 19
                       Joel Hill  Age 19                            Frederick Danner  Age 18

                                         Never Forgotten Survivors

Gordon King                        Stephen Bowman            William Parshall
Warren Burchett                 Jerry Smith                      Charles Gibson
John Moore                         Glen Spady                      Frank Keesling
Richard Leak                       Joseph Smalls                 Jerry Gunter
Robert Chounard                 Edward Cosgrove           William Davidson
Patrick Chase                       Rodney Seewald             Thomas Sullivan
                                              Thomas Rother

On November 1, 1966, the El Cariso Hot Shots, A USDA-Forest Service Interregional Wildland Firefighting Crew, working on the Loop Fire, were trapped by flames in a steep canyon on the hillside directly in front of you.

The crew was constructing fireline downhill into a chimney canyon, and were within 200 fee of completing their assignment when a sudden shift of winds caused a spot fire directly below where they were working. Within seconds, flames raced uphill, engulfing the firefighters in temperatures estimated to reach 2,500 degrees F. The fire flashed through the 2,200 foot long chimney canyon in less than one minute, catching the crew while they attempted to reach their safety zones.

Ten members of the elite firefighting crew, the El Cariso Hot Shots, perished on the Loop Fire that day. Another two members succumbed from injuries in the following days. Most of those who survived were critically burned and remained hospitalized for some time.

In the last 30 years, lessons leaned from the Loop Fire tragedy have been shared with firefighters around the world, saving many lives.


Dedicated November 1, 1966


1996 El Cariso Hot Shots Loop Fire Memorial Moved to El Cariso Hot Shot Camp

The 1966 El Cariso Hot Shots Loop Fire Monument, dedicated November 1, 1996, has been moved to the present El Cariso Hot Shot Camp, 32353 Ortega Highway, west of Lake Elsinore, California.


Appreciation of the 1966 El Cariso Hot Shots (Click On)


The 1996 Monument

Fire Stick Presentation

David S. Westley, 1966 El Cariso Hot Shot, proudly donated his "Fire Stick" to Jay Bertek, Camp Superintendent of the El Cariso Hot Shots on November 2, 2012. There was a tradition of inscribing a used and discarded fire tool handle (Pulaski, Brush Hook) with the names of the fires, location and acres burned during a fire season. The fires listed on David's fire stick were just the fires he atteneded during the summer of 1966. For information on these fires, see "Summary of Fires - 1966" listed in the Menu on the Home Page.


David S. Westley presents Fire Stick to Jay Bertek


California Wildland Firefighters Memorial

The California Wildland Firefighters Memorial (CWFM) is a tribute to firefighters that have paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting wildland fires in the State of California.

This Memorial is located along its dedicated highway, the Ortega Highway, between Lake Elsinore and San Juan Capistrano.  A U.S. Forest Service picnic area is adjacent to the Memorial, where Highway 74 (Ortega Highway) and the South Main Divide Road intersect. A final dedication of this site was held October 8, 2011, at 10:00 am. (See Events - October 8, 2011 in the main Menu of this website.) 
Also visit


The California Wildland Firefighters Memorial (CWFM)


Passing of Frank Keesling
We are sad to report the passing of Franklin James Keesling August, 2011.
We all knew him as Frank Keesling, close friend of Kenneth Barnhill, both El Cariso Hot Shots, 1966.

Franklin James Keesling (1947 - 2011)

Franklin James Keesling passed away on August 31, 2011, after a brief illness, surrounded by his loving family. He was 63 years old. Frank was born in Bethesda, Maryland on December 27, 1947, to Jim and Alice Keesling. As the son of a career Navy father, he lived in Guam, Japan, Alaska and Hawaii. He eventually settled in the Southern California area, later moving to Eureka and has resided in Lodi for the past 13 years. Frank was an electrician by trade and a proud member of the IBEW, recently working at the Lodi Energy Center. He was a master craftsman, enjoyed woodworking and cooking for family and friends. He is survived by his loving wife, Emilie; parents, Jim and Alice Keesling of Doniphan, MO; daughters, Leslie (Michael) Filson, Alyson (Bradley) Rodeheaver; step daughters, Amy (Ruben) Gallego, Jill (Paul) Willemsen; and 10 grandchildren, all of Southern California; brother, Ron Keesling of San Diego; and sister, Paula (Darrell) Hill of Hollister, MO. Friends are invited to attend a memorial service on September 17th, at 2:00 p.m. at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 701 South Pleasant Ave., Lodi. A virtual register book may be signed at www.lodifuneralhome.com where memories can be shared. Lodi Funeral Home is assisting the family with the arrangements. Published in LodiNews from September 13 to September 20, 2011