Sierra Stalwarts

September/October 2007

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Sierra Stalwarts

Sarah Kehoe

Stanford Sierra Camp director Dave Bunnett got the call just after 2 p.m. on June 24: fire on the Angora ridge. Soon, choking black smoke was pouring over the ridge one mile from the camp, which is operated by a subsidiary of the Alumni Association on the shores of Fallen Leaf Lake. Shortly before 4 p.m., Bunnett gave the word to 375 guests and staff members: evacuate. Within 15 minutes, Sierra Camp was empty, save for seven staff members who remained behind.

Their job was far from done. Bunnett, ’83, a volunteer firefighter, was responsible for making sure the 400 other residents of the Fallen Leaf area evacuated, too. “He did an absolutely outstanding job,” says Chris Sauer, ’90, chief of the Fallen Leaf Fire Department. “He took care of everyone.” Camp staffers Jonathan Howells, Morgan Marshall, ’03, and Charlie Powers also did shifts fighting the fire in their volunteer capacity.

The blaze, which was started by an illegal campfire and burned 3,100 acres before it was contained on July 2, spared the camp itself. But beyond the Fallen Leaf basin, more than 250 homes were destroyed. That first day, Bunnett feared his own home was among those lost. As his neighbors evacuated, they saw flames nearby and passed word to Bunnett that his house was on fire. It wasn’t until the next morning that he learned only brush had burned; his house survived.

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