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Incident Name: Gaviota Fire
Date:  Incident date: August 25, 1944; Death Date: August 26, 1944
Personnel: Richard McFarland
Age: 15
Agency/Organization: Santa Barbara County
Position: firefighter

Summary: On August 25, 1944, Richard McFarland suffered fatal burns battling a 1,100 acre brush fire in Gaviota, CA. He died on August 26. He was 15 years old. In 1944 Santa Barbara High School athletes were allowed to obtain seasonal jobs with the county forestry department due to the manpower shortage caused by World War II. Participants were required to be at least 16 years old. How 15 year old McFarland got the job is unknown.

 

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Maps

brush fire in Gaviota, CA

 

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Santa Barbara News Press August 26, 1944, front page. Additional info 8/29/44
  • California Death Index: Richard Patrick McFarland

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Wildlandfire.com Links:

 

 

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Media Articles and Reports

 

 

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • California Firefighters Memorial Wall: 1940-1949 - Richard McFarland (pdf)
  • Santa Barbara County Fire Department Fallen Firefighters Memorial
  • Remembering the Fallen

    3/31/12 | santamariatimes.com

    The memorial for eight Santa Barbara County firefighters who died in the line of duty is shown this week (March 2012) outside county fire headquarters on Cathedral Oaks Road in Santa Barbara. The memorial, which has been in the works for more than 10 years, will be dedicated this morning... More at the link, including summaries of the incident circumstances of the fallen.

Santa Barbara County Fallen Firefighter Memorial: Located outside county fire headquarters at 4410 Cathedral Oaks Rd, in Santa Barbara.

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Contributors to this article: Ted Mathiasen, Santa Barbara County Capt. Curt Warner

 

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