My old friend Steve Topol, who lived in Tahoe City in his youth, took a moment off from managing his Tahoe Blue Agave lounge in Tahoe City and his law practice to drop a note recalling that fateful day in 1960, in part to share a memory of the fire with readers and in remainder to prove that an aging U of N SAE alum can still use the English language. It read so well I asked for his permission to use it as a stand-alone site. Enjoy!
“I remember this fire so well. I was 13. My neighbors and I were competing at a waterskiing tournament at Homewood. It was a Saturday. The announcer noticed the column of black smoke rising from the north. It just got bigger and bigger as the day went on. I was living in Tahoe City at home with my family. We cooked on a hibachi with no power for a week. I drove one night into Truckee with my brothers and Dad to check our mill. The flames were visible from downtown Truckee. We were warned not to drive into town as they were conscripting people to fight on the lines.
“We stayed all night at the mill to put out the hot embers falling onto the sawdust piles. If the mill caught in fire, all of Truckee would have been lost. There was no fire engines or able bodied men in Truckee to fight a big fire. It was an all volunteer fire department headed by the Southern Pacific Depot manager Tom Dolly. We lucked out. A sawdust pile caught on fire, but it was far enough from any structures to not do any damage.
“I’ve been to the spot where the fire started. Just off the Donner Lake exit on I 80. It’s really interesting. There is also a marker near Hobart Mills on ‘89 where the fire stopped. The Tahoe Donner subdivision is built on the Donner burn area.
“Thanks, Karl, for your post.”
No, Steve; it’s we who thank you for our information…