On November 24 when I was working on installing the new Wildfire Fighter game on my iTouch, I exchanged a phone call and some emails with the company that produced it, and also with Chris Skaggs, the lead developer of the software. With Mr. Skaggs’ permission, here are copies of some of the emails. All were on November 24:
From Chris, forwarded to me by someone at the company that produced the game:
My dad was a career firefighter captain in Lake Arrowhead, CA – a resort town not far from LA. And every year we went through wildfire season where some pretty massive fires ripped through those mountains. SO I grew up with a constant awareness of the risks and dangers of wildfires as they regularly threatened my home and we had to evacuate several times as fires got within a mile or two of my home. In fact, the real Smokey bear was a bear cub found in a burnt out tree after the great Bear Fire – he was found about 10 miles from my house.
From me, to someone at the company that produced the game with whom I had been talking:
Thanks- But you might pass along to Mr. Scaggs that Smokey Bear was found in the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico.
From someone at the company that produced the game, to Chris:
Do you have any comment? He is calling you out on smokey bear knowledge!~ You might give him an email to say hi. He wrote about you in a good way earlier today. 🙂
From Chris to me:
Dude – I called my dad and I’ve basically been wrong my whole life. 🙂
But there’s a good reason…
I grew up right next to the Children’s Forest in the San Bernardino mountains. (http://www.sbnfa.com/chindex.php)
This site was built in the wake of the Great Bear Fire in 1970…but that fire was not named after Smokey Bear (which is what I’d always thought) but after Bear Creek and/or the nearby town of Big Bear (depending on who you ask).
There is a painting of Smokey Bear clasping the stump he was found on in that area and somewhere in my 5 year old mind I got the two stories put together and nobody ever corrected me until today…then again, I don’t know that I ever talked about it to anybody before now either…
So Mr. Gabbert appears to be spot on…and a precious childhood memory lay shattered in the ashes. 😉
BUT – all the other stuff is true…I think…pretty much… 😉
When I asked Chris for permission to print the story, he replied:
Feel free to print my story. Please let me know when/where I can see it. My dad would really get a kick out of that.