Just after 4:00pm on July 1, 2007, a fire began on the flanks of Mt. Murphy. Located in central Coloma, east and adjacent to the South Fork American River, the fire and smoke was seen from miles away. The burned area is owned and managed by the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park. The park acquired the land through the efforts of ARC who recognized the scenic value of Mt Murphy as a backdrop for the historic park. The area burned is classic chaparral grasslands with some brush and oaks. No cause of the fire was known. Several structures were threatened, but there was no loss of buildings thanks to the efforts of CDF, who fought the fire with hand crews, helicopter water drops, and retardant dropped from the air. Although fire officials closed all roads providing access to Mt. Murphy, there were no mandatory evacuations.
Helicopters filled their water buckets to fight the fire from the South Fork American River, above Troublemaker Rapid. River Road residents Jim Baldini, Heather Guttormsen, and Eleena Bradford (who is 5) were in a great position to view the Firefighter’s efforts. Here’s how they described their backyard scene; a helicopter would hover with its landing rails touching the water, then the pilots would honk and wave at the onlookers, then fly off as the suspended water bucket was filled. Heather echoed the sentiments of many residents when she applauded the talent and dedication of all these men and women that protect our little valley.
Thanks to Coloma area resident Brad Penner for the following video, shot from the north-facing canyon wall (river left) upstream from the fire: