KNP Complex Fire: Protecting the historic Buck Rock Lookout

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As the KNP complex fire burned tens of thousands of acres in its path, forest officials wrapped the iconic Buck Rock Fire Lookout in protective material.

The 360 observation point stands guard in the Sequoia National Forest. It was built in the early 1920s and remains a critical tool for keeping the area safe.

"This lookout is not just a piece of living history," says Michigan. "It's actually in service and it's still being used the exact same way that it was from the beginning."

Michigan works and lives in the lookout, making the trek up and down 172 steps five days a week to scan the horizon for new fires.

"With all the technology we have out there, why is it important there are eyes on the forest?

"So, it's interesting you would say that because we are called the eyes of the forest," Michigan said. "Yes, we do have aircraft. We have drones, we have cameras but truly, none of that technology can replace us."

As the KNP Complex Fire moved closer, Michigan was forced to evacuate.

"This whole area beyond the green trees we're looking at, the smoke was coming towards us and running up this ridge about four and a half miles away," she said. "I could hear the embers dropping. When I'm talking about embers, I'm talking about pieces of debris two, three inches big."

More than a month after the fire broke out, the flames are now tampering down.

Crews peeled off the fire-resistant wrapping Thursday.

"The thought of potentially losing Buck Rock to fire is heartbreaking," Michigan said.

The lookout is closed for the rest of the season, but they're hoping to reopen for visitors in June.
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