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Incident Name: en route to a night fire on the Angeles National Forest
Date: 2/10/1978
Personnel: George Roth Scribner
Age: 39
Agency/Organization: US Forest Service
Position: Engine Foreman (captain) of Engine E-7 stationed at the Monte Cristo Engine Station on the ANF (Little Tujunga Hotshot Newsletter, Winter 2010, page 4)

Summary: George R Scribner was Engine Foreman on E-7 on the ANF when he lost his life in a mud slide while responding to a night time fire call at a church camp near Hidden Springs. Two crewmen in the engine were able to escape.

In August, 1977 the Middle Fire burned down to mineral soil, putting the Middle Fork of Mill Creek Drainage, Tujunga Canyon and surrounding areas at risk for mud slides. On February 8, 1978, several days of rains (11 inches) sent water down the canyons made barren by the fire. The mud slide and debris flow caused a basin dam to collapse damaging and desttroying hundreds of homes in the Hidden Springs area, Tujunga CA and sweeping away the Engine, causing George's death.

Photo credits: Rick Messier:

George Scribner plaque George Scribner plaque
George Scribner Engine Station Sign George Scribner Engine Station Sign

 

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Maps

near a church camp on Mill Creek near the Hidden Springs Cafe

George Scribner location George Scribner location

 

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • From the Vetter Mountain Fire Lookout (ANF) - The Merwin Family Experience

    On-line photo journal of a volunteer fire lookout

    Ramona Merwin - Vetter Lookout 1955-1981:

    There's a comment about 2/3 of the way down the page describing the 1977 MIDDLE FIRE and Charles Scribner's death the following February in the mud and debris flow:

    From Craig Baker, "The 1977 fire West of Vetter Mtn. Lookout is the “Middle Fire” which burned most of the Middle Fork of Mill Creek drainage on Angeles Forest Highway. A flash flood the following February came out of the burned canyon and killed George Scribner who was the engine foreman at Monte Cristo station while he was on a night time fire call to a church camp on Mill Creek near the Hidden Springs cafe."

    Thanks Craig!

  • NWS Report: Southern California Flash Floods and Mudslides, February 8-10, 1978 (44,941 K pdf)
  • California Death Index: George Roth Scribner
  • US Social Security Death Index: George Roth Scribner

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Media Articles and Reports

  • I first worked with George in 1959 at Tie Summit. He was then a TTO. As I understand it, the incident occurred just down the highway from the Monte Cristo Station, where he had been Captain for ten years. There was a ‘resort’ at what was then called Singing Springs. During a heavy rain storm several large culverts under the new highway being built up Upper Big Tujunga Canyon became plugged up – forming a dam of sorts that gave away and a huge wall of water and debris came down the canyon taking George’s and several others' lives. -- Rick Messier
Charles Scribner Charles Scribner
Charles Scribner Charles Scribner

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

 

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Contributors to this article: Rick Messier, Cody Blanco, Craig Baker, John Miller

 

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