Modjeska and Silverado Canyons and the 2007 Santiago Fire


Canyon resident

Dean Brown

OH 4140  
Narrator Brown, W. Dean
Interviewer Volker Janssen
Date June 28, 2008
Language English
Location Modjeska Canyon, Orange County, California
Project 2007 Santiago FireOpens in new window
Format(s) Audio; Video; Final Transcript  (29 pp.)
Other Field Notes; Photographs; Correspondence
Abstract An oral history with W. Dean Brown, a life-time resident of Southern California. This interview was conducted for the Center for Oral History 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 an urban planner, and his personal fight against the Santiago Fire. The interview especially focuses on growing up in Eagle Rock near Pasadena in the 1950s, his love for the mountains; his camping and travels across the U.S. and Alaska; losing college deferment and being drafted into the Marines; Vietnam tour in 1968 in 1969; problems with authority; becoming an anti-war protester; the urban planning degree at Cal Poly Pomona; his love for Southern California; lessons from Vietnam about politics and the role of government; the impact of California Environmental Quality Act; getting to know the canyons; first encounter with a tarantula hawk; the beauty of canyon life; environmental improvements in Southern California since the 1960s; concerns with development; early encounters with fire; fire safety on the property; the increasing dangers of arsonists; climate change; Santiago Fire: making it back home for evacuation; the decision to stay; watching the fire burn towards Modjeska; surveying the damage in the canyon; feeling abandoned; the return of the firefighters; Brown's personal firefighting efforts; gratitude for the work of firefighters from across the nation; providing local knowledge; the art of setting backfires; facing the flames with a garden hose; the mudflow of May; the consequences of having sandbags in the wrong place; the need for cell phone service; cleaning up the property; the limits to development; Brown's appreciation of Tucker Sanctuary.

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Transcript OH 4140 transcriptPDF 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.