The historic Rock House located on Yankee Hill on Highway 70 was a familiar site to anyone traversing the Feather River Canyon. It was built in 1937 using horse and wagon to locally source the rock. The walls are 18 inches thick and are all that’s left of the main structure. The owners, only known as David, Karen and Annie, lost not only the business, but also their home as the Camp Fire swept through the area the morning of Nov. 9, the day after the fire began. Interesting enough, the structure to the left and the patio area behind it were left relatively whole. Photos by Victoria Metcalf

Camp Fire up close


Work crews cut down burned timber along Highway 70 on Dec. 4. This was one of the areas burned by the Camp Fire in November. As the trees were cut down, trucks hauled away some of the limbs, some of the wood was chipped and taken away or shot back onto the landscape to act as mulch and to help stabilize the hillsides. The Camp Fire started during the morning of Nov. 8. The ignition site is believed to be at some power lines on Pulga Road in the Feather River Canyon, but the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Winds and five years of drought conditions whipped flames that quickly spread.
This garden statue was left untouched, along with the thick rock walls of the Rock House. Statistics vary, but between 85 and 88 people lost their lives in the fire.
Homes, mobile homes, structures and vehicles were all consumed as the Camp Fire swept through Concow. It’s believed white settlers called this area the Concow Valley because of the large number of Concow Indians (a part of the Maidu) who would camp there. It’s thought that during the early 1850s the influx of miners to the Yankee Hill region crowded out the local populations. Reportedly, the community had a population of around 700. Nearly all of the homes in the area were destroyed as the Camp Fire swept through.
Scenes like this are common along Highway 70 the closer one gets to the Yankee Hill area. Much of the timber is blackened and some charred from the intense flames that swept through the region. Surprisingly enough, some homes and patches of wooded areas are left untouched. CalFire lists 13,972 residences as lost, 525 commercial buildings and 4,293 other structures.
Delays could be expected as debris from tree removal and chipping operations was found along the highway in the areas hit by the Camp Fire along Highway 70. This is the easier fix following the fire. Removing debris and burned out cars are other challenges to face.
Backache Road, as the sign declared, was a rough road before the Camp Fire. Destroyed timber, brush, outbuildings and homes are what are found in the area now. In a number of cases, only signs, mailboxes and the materials that the fire couldn’t consume are left.
This photo was taken from the vantage of a turnout along Highway 70 showing how the Camp Fire didn’t wipe out everything but burned in mosaics leaving some areas untouched. Fire experts are saying that the region was ripe for fire with its five years of drought conditions and then the wind to fan the flames.
This was taken from the remains of Grand View showing the destruction on the mountains in the area. Small businesses like this sprang up along the Feather River Canyon as the road was being built in the 1930s. CalFire lists that 153,336 acres burned in the Camp Fire. The incident is listed as fully contained. The Camp Fire is being called the state’s most devastating fire.
Welcome to Plumas National Forest. Why this lone pickup was in the area of this well known turnout as one enters the forest driving east is a story for the imagination. For those driving west on Highway 70 it’s a powerful indicator of what lies ahead. Like most vehicles the fire touched, the heat was so intense it melted steering wheels, stripped upholstery to springs and frames and turned tires into strings of wire.
This is all that remains of the Grand View. This was a white stucco series of small buildings located at the very edge of the property and overlooking the deep valley below. Grand View opened as a service station around 1938. It’s undergone a series of changes over the years. It’s believed that it was most recently a residence.