What it takes to become a Southern California wildfire lookout

RIMFOREST, Calif. (KABC) -- The views from the Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout towers are some of the most breathtaking in California, and the volunteers who work there do an important job of looking out for wildfires.

Pam Morey's been a lookout for 26 years, always scouting for that first sign of smoke.

"There's seven lookouts on the forest, so we're always competing to get that first report," she said.

They also entertain visitors. The Butcher family is from Phoenix, Arizona.

"I wanted to show my kids. My dad had worked at a fire lookout tower in Tucson," one visitor said.

Of course, just making it up the stairs is a little difficult for some, but once at the top, the view is amazing.

The view is so incredible, it's hard to put into words. Perhaps one doesn't have to...There's a 360-degree view of Southern California.

"They just have these beautiful views. At night you can see Vegas lights from some of our higher ones up in Big Bear, so you get both directions if you really think about that 360-degree view," said Stacy Gorin of the Southern California Mountains Foundation.

Gorin also said it's not just about the view but the volunteers.

"We find that it's still really important to have eyes over the forest," she said.

People who do it for practically nothing, just donations. But it certainly helps make a difference.

"It's amazing, even with all the changes in technology, how often we still get first reports, so we're very proud of our volunteers and the work they do to look over the forest and keep our communities safe," Gorin said.
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