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Incident Name: Kings Canyon Fire, Toiyabe National Forest
Date: Sept 28, 1926; Bryant Whitmore died on October 1, 1926 and Arthur Sunday died some days later
Personnel: 5 lives lost
Age: 
Agency/Organization: 
Position: firefighters

Summary:
George Brown, 41, prisoner and native of Illinois, teamster by occupation
J.E. Mitchell, 48, prisoner from Searchlight, Nevada, miner by occupation
Ross E. Morres,  V&T RR-Gandy Dancer, section hand, volunteer firefighter
Arthur Sunday, 62, Forest Ranger
Bryant Whitmore, 42, prison guard

At 4:00 am September 28th, 1926, fire broke out at Jack Smith Ranch at the base of Clear Creek Canyon. It traveled up the canyon rapidly, fanned by strong winds, reversed itself and came down Kings Canyon. It reversed itself again and raced up Kings Canyon once more trapping 5 firefighters near the double barrels turn on the road to Glenbrook. Three of the men were burned on the spot, the other 2 men also suffered intensive burns and were hospitalized but died later. (from the plaque)

Photo of text on the plaque: Russell Haynes

Words on Plaque Words on Plaque

 

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Maps

Burnover Location: Kings Canyon, NV-CA double barrels turn on the road to Glenbrook, Toiyabe National Forest

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Historical Wildland Firefighter Fatalities 1910-1996 | A Publication of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (408 K pdf)
    • Date: 1926
    • Fire Name & Location: King's Canyon, Toiyabe NF, CA
    • # Fatalities: 5
    • Agency: 5 USFS
    • Fire Behavior Observed: Unanticipated downslope winds on lee side of 'Sierras pushed fire into second growth with brush.
    • Remarks: Firefighters had gone downhill for water and were trapped on the road when the wind changed.
  • Plaque on Hwy 299
    • Clear Creek - Kings Canyon Fire
    • September 28th, 1926

      At 4:00 am September 28th, 1926, fire broke out at Jack Smith Ranch at the base of Clear Creek Canyon.

      It traveled up the canyon rapidly, fanned by strong winds, reversed itself and came down Kings Canyon. It reversed itself again and raced up Kings Canyon once more trapping 5 firefighters near the double barrels turn on the road to Glenbrook. Three of the men were burned on the spot, the other 2 men also suffered intensive burns and were hospitalized but died later. Those who gave their lives were:

      • George Brown, prisoner
      • J.E. Mitchell, prisoner
      • Ross E. Morres, V&T RR-Gandy Dancer
      • Arthur Sunday, forest ranger
      • Bryant Whitmore, prison guard
  • 1920 and 1910 Census record from Family Search: Arthur J Sunday; age 58, single at that time and residing in Carson, Ormsby, NV, born in Illinois in 1862
  • Utah Deaths and Burials from Family Search: Bryant Whitmore, age 42, died 1st of October 1926 in Reno NV.
  • Kings Canyon Memorial Marker for the 5 who were lost; credit to the Geocaching.com group
Kings Canyon Plaque Kings Canyon Plaque

 

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Media Articles and Reports

News about Kings Canyon Fatalities, 1926 News about Kings Canyon Fatalities, 1926
Kings Canyon Fatalities, 1926 Kings Canyon Fatalities, 1926
 
Kings Canyon Fatalities, 1926 Kings Canyon Fatalities, 1926
Kings Canyon Fatalities, 1926 Kings Canyon Fatalities, 1926
Kings Canyon Fatalities, 1926 Kings Canyon Fatalities, 1926
Inmates Pardoned, 1926 Inmates Pardoned, 1926

 

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

  • Brown and Mitchell were Pardoned retroactively:

    If I were either of these men

    Who now lay side by side --

    And, serving to the uttermost,

    Had suffered much -- and died;

    And I could have one last request

    Be granted by your State --

    Quite humbly, I'd beg of Thee,

    "Be just -- and wipe the slate."

    -- Federal 23319

  • Nevada Fallen Firefighter's Memorial: Ross Morres | Arthur Sunday | Bryant Whitmore | George Brown | JE Mitchell

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Contributors to this article: NonSurfinCaFF, geochaching.com, RJM, Russell Haynes, Dennis Cullen, Jeff S.

 

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