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Life On Top Of Buck Rock, Watching The Rough Fire Rage

Buck Rock Foundation’s Facebook
Crews including Kathy Allison work to wrap the Buck Rock Lookout in protective material as the Rough Fire approaches

On July 31st, 2015 the staff of the Buck Rock Fire Lookoutin the Sequoia National Forest spotted smoke from a small lightning caused fire near Rough Creek. The blaze would quickly grow in the tinder dry forest, eventually becoming the largest fire recorded in this part of the Sierra, destroying over 151,000 acres. 

Crews including Kathy Allison work to wrap the Buck Rock Lookout in protective material as the Rough Fire approaches.
Credit Buck Rock Foundation’s Facebook

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The fire even threatened the Buck Rock lookout itself, where crews were forced to evacuate the facility due to the smoke and flames.

While the historic tower survived the blaze, we spoke with the woman who usually on-duty at Buck Rock, Kathy Allison. For several decades she’s lived in the tower, scanning the skies for fires, assisting with search and rescue operations, and serving as an educational resource for the 6,000 hikers who climb the lookout’s steps each year.

Allison joined us on Valley Edition to talk about her experience during the Rough Fire, the effort to save the tower, and the solitude she finds while high atop the forest, with some of the best views in California. 

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of KVPR / Valley Public Radio. He has led the station through major programming changes, the launch of KVPR Classical and the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his leadership the station was named California Non-Profit of the Year by Senator Melissa Hurtado (2019), and won a National Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting (2022).
Ezra David Romero is an award-winning radio reporter and producer. His stories have run on Morning Edition, Morning Edition Saturday, Morning Edition Sunday, All Things Considered, Here & Now, The Salt, Latino USA, KQED, KALW, Harvest Public Radio, etc.
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