As It Was: South Coast Family Soaks in River to Escape Forest Fire

Jun 1, 2018

One autumn in the 1930s, the Colegroves who lived at Mountain Ranch, near Brookings, Ore., took a camping and hunting vacation on the South Fork of Pistol River.  They loaded their sedan with supplies and slowly headed toward the canyon with two riding horses in tow.

At the camp site, they set up under a shady tree.  On the fourth morning, while their parents slept in, two siblings went exploring upriver, riding on horseback to the top of a nearby ridge. The beautiful day suddenly changed as a huge blot of smoke rose ahead of them.

Shocked and frightened, the kids raced back to camp screaming, “Fire! Fire!”

In what seemed a matter of minutes, the entire forest around them was a roaring blaze. The Colegroves put their horses and car into the water, grabbed essential gear, and waded in with wet blankets and gunnysacks. Two hours later the worst had passed.

The Colegroves were stuck on the river for seven days until a safe path opened among the smoldering debris.
 

Source: Sponaugle, Ella A. Pistol River Recollections. Gold Beach, Oregon, Curry County Historical Society, 2003, pp. 284-85.