An Open Letter


Dear Firefighters, USFS, OCFA, BLM, HJVFD and all others involved,

The day we hoped would never come finally arrived; a fire threatened our beloved canyon. We were confident that when the day came the fire would be attacked with gusto, but what we witnessed far exceeded anything we could have imagined.

I speak not only on behalf of the Trabuco and Holy Jim cabin owners, but also for the hikers, mountain bikers and weekend visitors to our canyon. We offer our most sincere gratitude to all involved for the outstanding job you performed to save our canyon. Without the aggressive aerial assault and ground crew efforts, the fire could have potentially overrun the canyon. The courageous effort made by firefighters, pilots and smoke jumpers was nothing less than monumental. As cabin owners, we know the danger and difficulty involved in navigating the slopes and rugged terrain around the cabins. The work that the ground crews performed at each individual cabin (raking, relocation of combustible material from cabin perimeters) was unexpected and appreciated. You risked life and limb for our canyon and words cannot adequately express our gratitude. We wish the injured firefighters a speedy recovery.

We realize that our situation in the canyon is tenuous and can change at any moment. As we are well aware, Mother Nature always has the upper hand. We are thankful you have given us and all the visitors to our mountain paradise more time to enjoy its beauty.

Most Sincerely,

Trabuco and Holy Jim Cabin Owners

Words from individual cabin owners, hikers, mountain bikers and visitors to Holy Jim and Trabuco Canyons:

My dog and I regularly hike in Holy Jim Canyon. It was frightening to see how close we came to losing our beautiful forest to the flames. We would like to express our sincere thanks to the men and women who so bravely fought the recent "Holy Jim Fire."

J. Peterson

My husband and I are very grateful for the incredible people who fought the fire in Holy Jim.  Their effectiveness and tireless efforts will be remembered as nothing short of heroic and although we will never really understand what it takes for these heroes to stop a fire like this one, and then remain in place for days making sure people, property, and the Forest are safe, we also can never thank them enough for what you did. May God bless them all.

Ray and Leslee Riddell
Holy Jim Canyon #29

To ALL the individuals, agencies, and associations (too many to list) that fought the "Holy Fire".
I would like to Thank You so very much for your excellent efforts in containing the fire. The extreme conditions surrounding  the fire and the risks you had to take are greatly appreciated. Putting your lives at risk to save others and their property is an estimable act. One that many people would run from.  Thank you all for having the courage to brave that Bell Canyon terrain, the canyon heat and the circumstances.

Without you our cabins would be gone forever.

I offer my Sincere Thanks,
Carol Adams
Holy Jim Canyon #29

Today I hurried right up to my cabin curious to see the fire area and the old first in thing motivated me. After enjoying a very pleasant drive in with no traffic as one is used to on a Saturday I honked around my cabin in peace. After a nice visit with friends at their cabin I started down the trail home. Little did I know the profound privilege I was about to experience. I had seen all the fire trucks were parked all along the road on the way up.  Some from Division of Forestry, some from Camp Pendleton, some from Kern Co. There were a couple marked with Alaskan Hotshots on the door. But nothing could have impressed me more than the faces that matched these rigs. They came marching off the steep sides of our canyon single file. The places too tough for us to tread. I saw some four companies of between fifteen and twenty five. They were young and they were covered in dirt and soot like coal miners coming from the hole. Some had the clearing hoe on the shoulder and some just carried them at their side. They were tired from days of hot dangerous unforgiving work. I don't think they were there for money or glory. I believe they were truly there for a greater good. They saved our cabins as well as the forest and the communities close. Each and every one I was impressed are some the best we have in this country. I will never know their names but I will never forget the faces.

My heartfelt gratitude to you fire fighters,
Eric W. Lint
Upper Trabuco Cabin #40

Praise to the administrations for combined cooperation. The well organized rapid response , and vigilant follow through combating this Trabuco Canyon fire serves as a beacon for our community. 
Scrambling on steep unstable canyon walls, covered with old growth brush, poison oak, rattle snakes, scorpions, jutting broken stump and branch daggers, spiny cactus, and sliding boulders to dredge a firebreak around the inferno. Wow , ground crews are serious baddass contenders.. Smoke jumpers, brave, adrenaline seeking , warriors. Pilots and operating engineers, navigating smoke filled skies, severely rutted roads, very limited accessible water and triaged equipment, so much depends on your skill, timing and judgment to contain the blaze. Logistics guys, it doesn't happen without your guidance. Medical and med-evac teams so essential. Communications and correspondence imperative.

Cue the music , get the hook, enough already. Like the Oscars..... and the award for valiant action under pressure goes to..... 
the aforementioned ensemble cast. 

Thanks Guys,  
Upper Trabuco Cabin #39 

Words cannot begin to express our feelings for the hard work, efforts, determination and devotion all of you put forth. I had the opportunity on Sunday to look through Mike Hague's binoculars and could see four or five of you at the edge of the burn area. I hike the trails here almost every weekend and I know the effort it had to take to hike the steep terrain plus in all of your protective gear! You guys (and gals) are incredible. I wish I could do something, feed you, have you over for dinner, some of you were from far away - I saw trucks from Utah and Alaska! So I know you had families concerned about you while you saved our canyons. God Bless all of you. Dave and I thank you so very much.

Dave and Sharon Niederhaus
Holy Jim Cabin #32

As a cabin owner in Trabuco Canyon, I want to express my wholehearted thanks to all the brave fire fighters that fought and defeated that Trabuco Canyon fire this last week.  I was up in the canyon Saturday and had the opportunity to observe the incredibly  difficult terrain that the fire fighters faced.  Without the response that was marshalled to defeat this fire, the damage would have been immense with possible extension into Santa Margarita.  Your efforts entailed great danger for you, and it was in a heroic fashion that you fought and stopped this very devastating fire.

Again, thank you.  
Pete Anderson
Upper Trabuco Cabin #22

We have enjoyed the canyons for over 20 years and have had the privilege of owning a cabin for the past 10 of those years. We have had several scares, but the recent Holy Jim fire was the closest we have come to potentially losing our beautiful canyon. We were so impressed by your rapid response and the work your men and woman did to protect and the area and cabins. I know you can't possibly hear this enough, so THANK YOU ALL for the work you did to save our canyon!

With gratitude,
Mike and Marcie Hague
Upper Trabuco Cabin #41

As a long-time visitor to Holy Jim Canyon, my family and I have come to appreciate the peaceful serenity that makes the canyon such a draw for those of us who want to enjoy a weekend respite. I still find it hard to believe that such a place exists so close to the hustle and bustle of Orange County. My family and I would like to thank you all for the effort you put forth to save the place we consider our "home away from home."

Bless you all and stay safe,
The Rodriguez Family
Lake Forest, CA

Thanks to you all! Don't know what we would do without our #1 biking destination!

E.L., Mountain Biker

Holy Jim Smith and Company