Bandon, OR Forest Fire Consumes Many Towns, Sept 1936
HEAVY DAMAGE IN CALIFORNIA AND S. OREGON FOREST FIRES.
NINE KNOWN DEAD IN BANDON AND IT IS FEARED MORE MIGHT BE FOUND IN SMOKING RUINS OF THE TOWN.
USE TRACTORS TO BATTLE THE FLAMES.
FIRE SEARED SECTIONS RESEMBLE SMOKING BATTLEFIELDS AS PEOPLE FIGHT TO SAVE HOMES FROM CONFLAGRATION.
Marshfield, Ore., Sept. 28 -- (AP) -- The fire-seared coasts of southern Oregon and northern California smoked like a battlefield today while thousands of citizens worked feverishly to save their homes and themselves from the flaming disaster which devastated a town of 1,500.
Typical of the grave situation facing the rich timbered mountain area was the village of Myrtle Point, about 30 miles southeast of Marshfield and 20 miles inland from Bandon, the town which was reduced to ruins Saturday.
The number of dead in the burning of Bandon was increased to nine during the morning as a force of about two hundred men, suplemented by officers and C.C.C. enrollees searched through the blackened ruins of 300 to 400 buildings. Of the population of 1,500 only about 40 residents remained in the town, the others having been evacuated to the homes of relatives elsewhere or to Marshfield.
Physicians were treating scores of persons for burns and minor injuries. About a dozen persons were treated for smoke blindness and eyes bandaged were a common sight.
Grim-faced groups, sleepless and drawn, sought to build a wall of safety about Myrtle Point during the night.
A huge tractor equipped with trench diggers, its exhaust roaring as if in challenge to the advancing flames, made circuit after circuit about Myrtle Point, gradually clearing an ever-widening space of brush and timber.
By this maneuver, the residents hoped to clear such a circle about the town that the flames, burning on the edge of the village, could not leap it unless driven by a high wind.
Depends On Wind.
This morning the wind was blowing away from the village but the vagaries of the weather could at any moment reverse the currents and drive the flames down on the village.
"No one talks much. There isn't any need to. They all know that it is just an act of God if they escape the fate of Bandon," was the way one fire fighter put it.
"The smoke is terrible. It starts about 10 miles east of Myrtle Point and you can't see for more than a block at the most and as you draw near the scattered fires, you can't see more than 50 to 100 feet."
"The fire makes a red glow through the smoke pall, which is so dense that it would be impossible to tell whether it was day or night unless you had a watch."
"The mental attitude of the people, besides being depressed by the holocaust at Bandon, is aggravated by the smoke. It makes your throat feel as though it had been filed and your eyes suffer from extreme irritation."
"An automobile cannot travel more than 10 miles an hour in the worst smoke areas."
"There is fire everywhere -- along the gulleys beside the roads, brandishing out of the tops of trees. It is a scene that gives you a feeling of dread and the faces of the people plainly reflect it."
While the main fire area was in the Bandon sector, scattered blazes stretched far up the Oregon coast and down into California.
Historic stands of redwood timber in California, product of ancient times, were threatened by the fire, which probably menaced a million acres all told. How many acres had been burned was guesswork, so scattered were the fires and so great the territory in which they were burning.
The greatest damage thus far had occurred at Bandon, where unofficial estimates placed the loss at $1,500,000, and Oregon House in northern California, which was wiped out with an unofficial estimated loss of $500,000.
Any sharp change in the wind would prove disastrous to a dozen of the southern Oregon coast cities, including Marshfield and North Bend, sister communities, which have a total population of 10,000.
The dead at Bandon were identified as:
MRS. IDA HILL.
MRS. CHARLES McCULLOCH, sister of KOUNTZ.
MRS. GEORGE WILLIAMS.
JACK BAILEY, who was killed fighting the flames.
Two remained unidentified.
An undetermined number were injured, but none was believed in a serious conditon although exact reports were difficult to obtain.
Jefferson City Post-Tribune Missouri 1936-09-28