Modjeska and Silverado Canyons and the 2007 Santiago Fire


Canyon resident

Steven Hand


OH 4146  
Narrator Steven Hand
Interviewer Volker Janssen
Date May 24, 2008
Language English
Location Modjeska Canyon, Orange County, California
Project  2007 Santiago Fire
Format(s) Audio, Final Transcript (33 pp.)
Other Field Notes
Abstract An oral history with Steven Hand, a life-time resident of Southern California. This interview was conducted for the Center for the Oral and Public History and Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary about the Santiago Fire in Modjeska Canyon in October 2007. The purpose of this interview was to gather information about his life in Southern California, his work as operating engineer in Orange County development, and his personal fight against the Santiago fire. The interview especially focuses on growing up in San Bernardino, his childhood and youth in the mountains; bringing himself through high-school; training as laborer and operating engineer; paving the way to Coto de Caza, California; working on Foothill Ranch; building Modjeska Community Park; receiving Harding Canyon property in exchange for a debt; working on Mulholland Drive; the isolation and safety of living at the end of Harding Canyon; becoming part of the community; responsibility as small business-owner; the privacy of canyon life; Modjeska as a community of people who "want to get away;" Hand's animal husbandry; raising kids in the canyon; the lake behind Harding Dam; the flood of 1969; the flood-safe design of Hand's property; the flood of El Niño in 1999 and the damages to Hand's home; Hand's own fire preparation; arsonist terrorism; the benefits of suburban sprawl; the fire safety of modern developments; Santiago Fire: watering the end of Harding Canyon; evacuating the family and staying behind; resisting Orange County Deputy Sheriffs; proving firefighters wrong and getting their support; flames shooting over the house; turning Harding Canyon into a rain forest; the work of hot-shots; taking a tour with the chief of operations; finding faith in God in crisis; the fire department's false principle of "save the engines;" strengthened bonds in family and community; the winter rains and the rejuvenation of the mountains; the May flood and the return of the creek; lessons from the fire: faith in God, and question authority.
Audio Part 1 (download.mp3)
Part 2 (download.mp3)
Transcript Text (download.pdfPDF File)

This project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities. The Council is an independent non-profit organization and a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information on the Council, visit www.calhum.org.