1964. Fire.

Claudine Hilliard grabbed her kids and hurried to Coddingtown where they stayed at Herb’s office until it was safe to return home. Betty and Allan Mulkey were reported to be on top of their roof, hosing it down. The firemen got her off the roof! Their home was spared but they lost some shrubs. Firestorms create their own weather system and the winds from the fire are When the fire of 1964 roared across Sonoma County the Community Hospital was evacuated. extremely difficult to contain and control. Jack Ingraham’s house was on Moving Mountain. He owned the eatery on Old Redwood Highway called “Ingraham’s Eats.”

Who grew up here, never left, or moved away and then came back? Do you remember the great fire? Do you have any information about the “Neilsen Home?” How were you involved in the Neilsen Ranch development? 

Responses

  1. I recall this fire all too well as a kid of 11 years old living on the east side of Montecito Heights on Los Olivos Rd. At our house there were actually three fires converging and only one way out. My dad had been at a church board meeting when the Sheriff was driving through with loudspeaker to evacuate. This was around 8 p.m. We were glued to our radios and listened in horror as reporters described the progress of the fire through Lomita Heights. It came to be known later that the reporter had incorrectly identified one of the homes on fire as the Thomas home at the top of Mira Loma. In reality it was the home of our friends Dot and Bill Hutchinson who were right next door to the Thomases. The following account was from Bill Hutchinson as I recall he and Dot sharing that night of horror. Bill was not about to let a fire destroy their beautiful new home without a fight. They had evacuated but as Bill stood in the driveway and watched the flames, he tore back into the house and left Dot and Kathy wondering what he was doing. He ran into the garage, grabbed a hammer and nails, then flew upstairs to the main living area and into the bedroom portion of the house. He grabbed blankets off the beds, put them in the toilet bowl and tank, then hammered them over the windows. By this time the fire was actually coming in between the two houses as he came out quickly to re-join Dot and Kathy. Their home did suffer significant smoke damage and the siding along the east side had to be replaced, but his quick thinking saved their home. From our side of the mountain the fire never got that close. But I remember that for 2-3 days after the fire the air was very thick and the sun was clouded. The atmosphere at the time did not allow for a quick end to the remaining smoke. We never had to leave our home, but I also recall that my mom had gotten up on the roof of our house with hose and rainbird going. Today, as a long time returning resident, I can’t believe that some residents of that area and above now could be either forgetful or very unaware the nature of Manzanita and Eucalyptus trees overhanging roofs and decks. These trees literally explode once a spark takes hold. Another fire of this category now would carry with it a staggering payout of insurance not to mention loss of many more homes.


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