Escape From Mammoth Pool

The true story of how 242 people—and 16 dogs—survived one of the fastest-moving, most intense wildfires in California history, as the Creek Fire closed in on their campground at Mammoth Pool Reservoir over Labor Day weekend 2020. Produced by Kerry Klein for KVPR—NPR for Central California. New episodes drop on Fridays.

 

Rolando Rosales

In the first three episodes of this series, we shared stories from the panicked evacuations and dramatic rescues of hundreds of people trapped at Mammoth Pool Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada. They’d fled there over Labor Day weekend 2020, as the Creek Fire consumed their campground and closed in on the lake. 

This week, we step back from that narrative with an epilogue. In a conversation with KVPR colleague Kathleen Schock, Kerry Klein checks in on these three families a year later: How have they recovered? How do they look back at the experience? And who is suing whom?

Joseph Rosamond

There are many ways to be heroic. Some of them are death-defying—like rushing into a burning forest to save hundreds of strangers—but some aren’t, and even talking someone down from a panic attack, or offering a ride in the middle of a wildfire, can pay dividends in serendipitous, even life-saving ways.

                                                                                                                                         

Alex Tettamanti

In last week’s episode, campers were in the throes of panic and chaos as they prepared to evacuate their campground. This week, they navigate two miles down a narrow, winding dirt road, its perils made all the more dangerous by the oppressive smoke and encroaching flames from the Creek Fire.

Credits:

Alex Tettamanti

For 17 years, Karla Carcamo’s family had a Labor Day tradition: they gathered all their cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, family friends, and even family members of family friends, and spent the long weekend camping at Mammoth Pool Reservoir in the Sierra Foothills.

 

Alex Tettamanti and her husband Raul Reyes were regulars at Mammoth Pool, too – the off-roading club they belong to with Vicky Castro and her husband Rolando Rosales also visited the reservoir every Labor Day to play with their quads and jet-skis.

The true story of how 242 people—and 16 dogs—survived one of the fastest-moving, most intense wildfires in California history, as the Creek Fire closed in on their campground at Mammoth Pool Reservoir over Labor Day weekend 2020.

Check out the trailer for Escape From Mammoth Pool, a new limited-run podcast produced by Valley Public Radio for the one-year anniversary of the start of the Creek Fire. Coming soon to KVPR.org, and wherever you get your podcasts.