El Cariso Park
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
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.
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.
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
Jerry Smith Charles
Joseph Smalls Jerry Gunter
Robert Chounard Edward Cosgrove
Rodney Seewald Thomas Sullivan
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
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)
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
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 http://www.cwfm.info.
The California Wildland Firefighters Memorial (CWFM)
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.
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