Some early fire lookout structures were in trees

Recent drone photos of the remains of a tree lookout in Oregon

Lookout tree fire wildfire tower
Lookout tree, photo by Steve Stenkamp

Years ago, in order to detect new ignitions of wildfires, land management agencies occasionally took advantage of tall trees on hilltops, building platforms near the top with ladders or other climbing aids below.

Using his Phantom 3 Pro drone, Steven Stenkamp shot photos of a what remains of a tree lookout on the Deschutes National forest in Central Oregon.  Pumice Springs lookout was built in 1930 and used for less than 10 years, Mr. Stenkap said.

Lookout tree fire wildfire tower
Lookout tree, photo by Steve Stenkamp

“The Pumice Springs Lookout had a ladder for about 20 feet, then 2 x 4s for about another 10,” Mr. Stenkap told us. “From there, the lookout used branches until he (or she) was about 10 feet from the platform where there was, and still is, another section of ladder.  According to the data from the drone the platform is at 81 feet.  The lookout was also known as Sand Springs lookout.  The tree is just about equal distance from each of those springs.”

Lookout tree fire wildfire tower
Lookout tree, photo by Steve Stenkamp
Lookout tree fire wildfire tower
Lookout tree, photo by Steve Stenkamp
Lookout tree fire wildfire tower
Lookout tree, photo by Steve Stenkamp

Before he retired, Mr. Stenkap’s duties at the Bend Fire Department in Oregon included flying a DJI Matice drone.