MVFD History Project

This project was conceived by Chief Michael Jablonowski after the devastating 2017 wild fires.  At that time, we had 8 firefighters led by Chief Will Horne.  The fires devastated our service area with 95% of the land burned, 47 homes and countless outbuildings burned, and one death. (Marc Schwager and I posted daily updates of home status (burned/not burned) and an Excel file of these tallys can be downloaded here.)

MVFD Team 1

The Project

The purpose of the project was to capture the Firefighter stories, share them with our community, and also to form a historical record to help inform future generations.  We expanded the project to capture resident stories too. 

Rina Faletti, Cavedale resident and professional historian, teamed with me for this project.  Her ‘historian’s perspective’ was invaluable to the project.  I want to thank the people who helped in other ways:

·      Doni Bird, Trinity resident
·      Jennifer O’Mahony, Cavedale resident
·      Carolyn Ash, Cavedale resident

We also received help and advice from Anthea Hartig, CEO California Historical Society

We recorded the stories as MP3 files and had them professionally transcribed.  We then corrected the place and people names where transcription failed.  We did not further edit the transcripts for grammar or readability… so you’ll read the dialog verbatim.

The interviews – a caveat

We are not professional interviewers, so please bear this in mind as you listen to the recordings or read the transcripts.  In many cases the interviewer had off-topic conversation as a preamble to the firefighter stories.  If you don’t want to listen to that, forward ahead 10 minutes or so.  Once the firefighters start to tell their stories… you’ll find the details to be incredible.

We wish we could have interviewed more of our residents, but we captured a representative sample of people who lost their homes, and those who did not; full time and part time residents; those who stayed to defend homes, and those who were evacuated; adult and youth stories - all are amazing.

 - Allison Ash, MVFD Board President

Firefighter Interviews (MP3 Files)

Anthony Horne
Jake Blehm
Jerry Apgar
Jesse Apgar
Michael Jablonowski Part 1
Michael Jablonowski Part 2
Pete Stewart
Scott Palkowski Part 1
Scott Palkowski Part 2
Ted Meyer
Will Horne

Firefighter Transcripts

Kirk VanWormer (CalFire)
Anthony Horne - MVFD Firefighter
Jake Blehm - MVFD Firefighter
Jerry Apgar - MVFD Captain
Jesse Apgar - MVFD Firefighter
Michael Jablonowski - MVFD Asst Chief
Pete Stewart - MVFD Firefighter
Scott Palkowski - MVFD Firefighter
Ted Meyer - MVFD Firefighter
Will Horne - MVFD Chief

Resident Interviews (MP3 Files)

Adie Flinn Part 1
Adie Flinn Part 2
Allison Ash
Doni Bird
Gene Reed
Geoff Herrick
Harry Saal Part 1
Harry Saal Part 2
Linda States
Lisa O'Connor
Lisa Warner
Tiernan Colby

Resident Transcripts

Adie Flinn 
Allison Ash
Doni Bird
Gene Reed
Geoff Herrick
Harry Saal
Linda States
Lisa O'Connor
Lisa Warner
Tiernan Colby

Earlier History, the 1964 Fire and the 1923 Fire

An article on the 1964 fire from the Kenwood Press is here, and a map comparing the footprint of the 1964 vs the 2017 fires can be found here.

We recently came across a historical treasure - a book on the 1923 fire which was published by Mrs James D Frazier (Ilene) in 1999. A scanned PDF of the book can be found here. Ilene was the person who created the 99 year lease for Station 1. The Frazier ranch was at the corner of Cavedale and Trinity, and became Claude and Betty Ganaye’s Above the Clouds B&B.

MVFD is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.