Oak Grove Hotshots Blog



On November 1, 1966, in a canyon near the boundary of the Angeles National Forest, California, a flare-up on the Loop Fire overran the Forest Service’s El Cariso Interregional Fire Crew, burned to death 10 firefighters and inflicted critical to minor injuries on 12 others.
The helmet in the photo was found over 30 years after the fire by a L.A. County fire crew working in the area.
While the Oak Grove Hotshots were on the Loop Fire, the helmet in the photo is not a helmet warn by any Oak Grove fire crew. It is believed that the helmet was probably warn by a member of the Oak Grove work center engineering crew working on the soil stabilization, after the fire. Why it was burned or the history of the helmet may never be known.

About 1968, standing in front of the crew truck, but who is he? Help us out.

1968 Project work.

1968 Mess hall Cook Virgil Arrant and the bull cook name unknown.

Some photos of the 1968 crew having a going away party for Bob Conklin, submitted by Steve Wark. If you recognize anyone let us know.

1967 Entrance sign
Left to right
Larry Lange Don Lopez Larry Boggs

1960 Crew Mostly Native Americans Superintendent Tom Ralls, Assistant Superintendent Reid Marks and Foreman Larry Boggs. Photo also includes Oak Grove tanker crew.


News Release from
The Cuzynski Family

On Friday, October 28, 2016, retired San Gabriel Fire Department Captain Chris Cuzynski, was traveling to Reno for a retired Police Officer’s funeral. In his travels north along Hwy 395, before the City of Lone Pine, Chris appeared to have a cardiac related issue which caused his passing. This resulted in a solo vehicle accident.
Captain Chris Cuzynski served 38 years with the San Gabriel Fire Department. He also served 2 years as a Federal Fireman assigned to El Toro Marine base and 2 years in the U. S. Forest Service as an Oak Grove Hotshot, for a total of 42 years of service.
Chris is survived by:
Mother —- Betty Linker
Wife —- Susie Cuzynski
Son —- Joe Cuzynski – Los Angeles County Fireman
Daughter —- Carolynn “Cookie” Cuzynski — Orange County Deputy Sheriff

Crew of 1976 Standing left to right… Bob Hewitt… Mike Rohde… Mike Dunn…Gary Kruth… Unknown… Bob Serrato w. beard… Mark Sayles… John Hundson… ??? Ramsey… Bent over Steve Pock… Ron Shurney… Bottom row Steve Arney… Larry Rodriguez… Dennis Mitchell… John Wambaugh… Paul Hogan… Larry ‘nasty” Thomas… John Schmechel… Louie Mora
Help us with the names by contacting us using the post feature.

Crew members identified in the 1968 PACE Magazine.

Starting on the far left, in the background is Chuck Grennell, standing next to Chuck is Steve McDougal, the next one (sitting on a rock with his head on his arm) is Cliff Penny, the next one, without the hard hat is Richard Boatwright, behind Boatwright (facing the opposite direction) is Raymond Leo Coker (we think), standing next to Coker is Don Allison, to the right of Allison (cut-off at the stomach) is Bob Conklin and lastly is Douglas Beck. They guy in the foreground, who is to the left of Beck, in this picture, (with his back turned to the camera) is Joe Gutierez. The guy behind Beck’s hardhat could be Bobby Harris.

Take a look at this video from the Rachel Maddow show. It has Oak Grove Hotshots in it.


Rod Duff, a member of the 1952 Oak Grove Hotshots, passed away on March 30 after a short illness. Rod lived a full life that included wildland firefighting for the USFS and CDF, working as a Disney Imagineer, owning an animation company, and serving as an interpretive ranger at Bodie State Park in retirement. He was an 19th century mining and railroading expert, a lifetime Land Rover enthusiast, a model railroader and a member of the Bodie Chapter of E Clampus Vitas. Rod considered his time as a hotshot one of the highlights of his life, and thoroughly enjoyed himself at the Oak Grove Hotshot reunion in 2012.

Services will be held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, April 6, at Joshua Memorial Park, 808 East Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster, CA.

Condolences can be sent to Rod’s wife Cindy Kline at 7229 West Columbia Way, Quartz Hill, CA 93536.

Best thoughts and prayers for family and friends.

Highly recommend you all read this book.

We are saddened to say that Bob Taber, a member of the 1960 crew has passed away. All crew members express our condolences to his wife Sue and his family.


1968 crew members L to R Steve Wark, Chuck Grennell and Ken McCool. Photo taken Dec. 2012.

Submitted from Jim Reveley’s collection.

1965 Oak Grove Hotshots from left: Gary? Greg ? and Mike Fisher.

1965 Oak Grove Hotshots from left standing: Foreman Jim Reveley, ??? fifth from left Gary Reynolds, ?, Greg, Jim ? ?, Sam Tsosie, Foreman Bill Hall, ? , Mike Fisher, ?, Terry Hines, ? ?

1965 Oak Grove Hotshots Jim Reveley, left (with back turned)

Bruce Hamp, Chilao 1961 ?

Party time at Monte Cristo: Gary Reynolds on floor, Terry Hines girlfriend Maria, John Finnerty with pillow.

1965 Oak Grove Hotshots L to R Terry Hines, unknown, Gary Reynolds.

1965 Oak Grove Hotshots: L to R Foreman Jim Reveley, Superintendent Marty Barrows, Foreman Bill Hall.

Foreman Jim Reveley planting trees at Monte Cristo.

Montey Cristo dedication 1967 ?

TTO Todd Heckert at Monte Cristo 1967

1975 Oak Grove Hotshots

1976 Oak Grove Hotshots

Marble-Cone fire 1977

1967 Project work falling tree

L to R Pat Felde, Larry Boggs, Tom Holden, John Alexander, Roger Gamst, unknown

Crew on a fire on the Tahoe NF, 1967

1964 crew responding to a fire

Tanker bay behind Ranger Station 50’s

Crew truck 1964

Paul Hope and behind him is John Lovato

Summer of 1964, in Santa Anita Canyon, doing project work

L to R Byron Crocker, Allan Fowler, Cirillio (first name), Donald Glauthier (on shoulders) Doug Dickson and Jim Linfoot.

Doug graduated from Humboldt State in Forest Management in 1965 and was a Lt. in the infantry in Nam, and was killed in a fire fight in 1967. He was a good friend.

Larry Boggs

New-bees with Boggs

Helicopter Training

1955 Constructing a “Flapper” building

Concrete logo now at the Angeles Crest Station

Oct. 1967

L to R Roger Gamst, John Alexander and Don Lopez off loading from DC-3

1967 crew members

L to R Roger Gamst, Don Allison, Dave Bohning, Larry Boggs and Don Lopez

Oct. 1967 Tahoe fire

L to R Roger Gamst, Dave Bohning and Tony Morton

1966 crew on the Mendocino NF, Round Fire

Tom Holden, Calvin Tane, Ed Hook, Tom Zwoa, Johnny Lewis, Pete Roble, Bill Cummings, Brim, Roy Nendria, Jerry Harris, Roger Gamst, Lewis Blades, Daryll Normark, Ron Hammond, Ken Vistad, Sam Bennett, Mike Gross, Art Romero and Jim Funk

Foreman Ron Shurney and crew


L to R Standing, Asst. Foreman Bruce Stevenson; Rex Johnson: Jim Linfoot; Jerry Rice: Donald Glauthier: Doug Dickson; Vincent Antone; Alan Fowler; …? Front row: Sam Bennet; Michael Yow; John Lavato and Byron Crocker


Back row from left
Tony Morton, Don Allison, Tom Holden, Dave Ohlson, Larry Humphrey, Dave Bohning, Mike Busch, Richard Reardon, Steve Wark, Wayne Crowder Front row kneeling: Don Bingham, Asst. Superintendent Larry Lang, Robert Murphy, Roger Gamst, Chris Paulson, Don Fritchman, Pat Burgess, Pat Felde, John Alexander, Foreman Donald Lopez and Superintendent Larry Boggs

Bob Hewitt 1976

Burning Brush 1976

Ron Shurney showing how it is done 1976

End of season pile burning 1976

Louie Mora and Bob Serrato after water fight 1976

Mike Rohde with his Super Pulaski 1976

One of two new crew trucks 1976

Ord Fire Tonto NF R-3 1976

Steve Arney and Mark Sayles Piute Mtn. SQF lightning 1976

Entrance walk to District Office during Santa Ana winds

Grab ass in the barracks 1976

Tex Strange and Nancy Ambler. Jack Tice, married Nancy while he was foreman working for Tex. Nancy was a payroll clerk in the OG office (1954).

Crew of 1957 Front row left to right #3 Harry Antonine #4 Dave Westfall #6 Jack Lane #8 Danny Bangs Second row left to right #2 Otto Hiesig (at time of picture, yard maintenance) #7 Dave Lake (mother tanker driver) #11 Kenneth Ray David Back row left to right #3 John Bowman

Highly recommend this book of early Forest Service history and wildland firefighting

Foreman Jack Tice 1955 made the signs for the new Hotshot trucks

Girl Scouts, Smokey L.A. City Fire Chief and Jack Tice, in front of of the LA City Hall 1957

1975 Fire in the Kern River Wilderness

Dave Maxell Kern River 1975 Hot Shovel

Kern River 1975 Glenn Howard Mr. Sunshine

Oak Grove Hotshot project wall

Thanks to Bob Hewitt for recovering this plaque from the “Project Wall”. Just some of the names of crew members who worked on the rock wall all those years were: Larry Rodriguez, Bob Serrato, John Wambaugh, Steve Pock, Dave Maxell, Gary Kruth and Mike Gutierrez.

During the 1959 Gun fire, Dave Westfall, was severally burned while scouting the fire. Trying to escape the fire front, Dave fell over a rock, landing on his back, and broke his left foot at the ankle joint with only the tendon holding. Norm White, was with Dave Westfall, when Dave broke his ankle, and was severally burned with 3rd. degree burns over most of his body. Eventually, Norm died of complications while in the hospital. This picture was taken at the end of the season party in which the Angeles NF, Forest Supervisor, Richard Droege, is presenting Chuck Woods (Oak Grove Foreman) and Jack Tice with a letter of commendation from Regional Forester Charles Connaughton, and a cash award for the part they played in the rescue of Westfall and White. Oak Grove Hotshot, Dick Williamson, and others were also instrumental in the rescue.

Some members of the 1950 crew included Ray Guardado Sr., pictured below the crew sign with dark glasses. The truck was one two or more that carried the crew.

1959 Barracks #3 (Foreman Barracks) Left: Dick Skelton Right: Tom Ralls

Fire School Fenner Canyon 1956 click to open PDF

1950 Newspaper article

Fire above Altadena

Joe Gutierez

Larry Lang

Lightning Fire

Crew hamming it up

Don Lopez

Crew infront of garage

Two man saw training

Getting ready to cut line

Dinner in the messhall

Cutting fire line

Pictures submitted by Joe Gutierez


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Tanker 1-4 1970 crew Back Row LR Wayne Crowder (TTO), Don Allison, and Forman Jerry O’Dell. Front row LR Frank Helper and Joe Perez

Oak Grove Trail Crew 1968/69 L to R Ukn, Skip Pike, Mike Paul (Doughrty), Roger Gamst, Don Gilliland, Wayne Crowder, Jim Linfoot, Wolfgang Tamm, and Buster Klien

The following 19 photos are from a 1968 PACE Magazine.

Disk Williamson took this picture in 1959, of George Hershberger at Switzer’s Campground.

Dillion Divide Fuelbreak 1960-68 L- R Bob Switzer, Ken David and Bob Hensley.

The following photo’s are submitted from Dick Willamson.
This is in 1959 on the Wiley Fire on Ontario Peak on the Mt. Baldy District. Our crew hiked in the night before and got to the fire about daybreak. It was a lightning strike, not much of a fire but got a lot of attention. They were looking for alternatives to Borate at the time and were experimenting with Bentonite and cargo drops from the Sikorsky S-55. The two guys in ball caps were researchers, probably from the Fire Lab. They had to hike out with us as the marine layer moved up that afternoon, preventing the helicopter from flying anymore. All the pictures are of the same fire that we, Oak Grove Hotshots, responded to the night before. If I remember right it wasn’t a complete crew, only those who were in still in camp when we got the call. In the group shot on the far right is Bob Ensminger, ADR on the Mt. Baldy District. Next to him is Palonio Romero, Helitack. All the rest are Oak Grove Hotshots.

Wiley Fire hike out.

Wiley Fire 1959 cargo drop

Wiley Fire 1959 S-55 cargo drop

Wiley Fire Bentonite Drop

Wiley Fire

Wiley Fire hiking out.

Wiley Fire Dick Williamson

Wiley Fire group shot

Wiley Fire long hike out.

Left – Ken McCool and Chuck Grennell

Louie Mora Hog Fire 1977

Ron Shurney Hog Fire 1977