Needles Lookout clean-up begins
More than a year after a fire destroyed the famous Needles Fire Lookout Tower work will begin to clean up the site. However, there are still no definite plans on when or if the lookout will be rebuilt.
The famous lookout perched on a rock in the Western Divide Ranger District within the Giant Sequoia National Monument on the Sequoia National Forest was completely destroyed in a structure fire in July 2011.
The Sequoia National Forest has contracted with Broadbent to clean up the hazardous debris that was left on top of the rock formation as the result of it burning.
Work will begin on Saturday, Sept. 22, and is expected to last approximately 10 days.
To ensure public safety, a forest closure will be in effect while the work is being done. Forest Road 21S05, Trail 32E22, the stairs leading up to the site, and an area closure around the rock formations, known as the “Needles,” will be closed.
A helicopter will be utilized to sling debris from the top of the rock formation to the trailhead.
During helicopter operations there is concern for rock climbers anywhere on the spires being at risk by rotor wash or debris falling from the sling load; therefore all spires on the Needles will be closed to access. If helicopter operations are finished early, the area will be reopened immediately.
The lookout tower was constructed in 1937-38 by the Civilian Conservation Corps atop the rock formation at 8,245 feet. A Forest Service employee, stationed in the tower, was responsible for detecting fires and relaying radio messages to a dispatcher, who in turn sent firefighters and support equipment to extinguish the reported fire. The tower was utilized as this employee’s office as well as their home for the summer months while the lookout was on duty.
The Forest Service is working toward rebuilding the tower if conditions allow and funding becomes available.