The fire of
Sept. 4, 2011
The Tehachapi property was devastated by a
forest fire on Sept. 4, 2011. Known as the "Canyon Fire," it burned
over 14,000 acres, destroying 32 homes and more than 100 other structures.
Virtually everything at the N6NB contest site was lost, including the cabin,
three other buildings, two 7,000-watt motor home-type generators, all of
the radio equipment and antennas, and even the plaques and certificates
shown elsewhere on this website.
The fire was started by the crash of a small
aircraft in the canyon below the property. The plane, which was flying
very low over the canyon, was caught in severe turbulence. The pilot
and a passenger were killed either by the impact or by the fire that quickly
engulfed the aircraft. According to news media accounts, the pilot
had often flown low over the canyon to signal a friend living there to
pick him up at a local airport On this particular day, that turned
out to be a bad idea. The same unpredictable winds that may have
contributed to the crash caused the fire to spread in several directions
very rapidly. It took nearly a week for firefighters to get the blaze
Several people who have operated at the Tehachapi
property were watching video from the fire area and monitoring the N6NB
beacons when the fire swept over the property. The beacons abruptly
went off the air. I received a cellphone call with the news as I
was driving to New England for the September VHF contest the following
weekend. I made a U-turn in Missouri and returned to California to
see the devastation shown in the photos below.
This post-fire photo was taken from about the same vantage point as
the opening image on N6NB.com.
This pile of rubble is all that remained of the cabin and its contents
after the fire. The towers that did not fall during the fire were
later removed as a precautionary measure. Only the onetime tower
trailer and one small tower were left.
This was once a Yaesu FT-736R, fully configured for 144, 222, 432 and 1296
MHz. In the background is the plate power transformer from a homemade
80-10 meter kilowatt amplifier that once ran two 3-500Zs. The amplifier,
built by N6NB in 1972, dissolved into the rubble. A cabinet hinge
and one corner of a "security" door are also visible.
This is what a galvanized steel tower looks like after the building
to which it was attached burns to the ground.
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