Twenty years later: the 49er Fire |

Twenty years later: the 49er Fire

It was 20 years ago that Nevada County was burning, said Boyd Johnson, the North San Juan Fire Chief in a recent e-mail to Prospector.

“(It) burned over 33,000 acres and destroyed or damaged more than 100 homes. With another epic fire season upon the county, the reasons to celebrate our local firefighters are apparent again,” Johnson said.

More articles about the 49er Fire:

The volunteer fire department that played such a huge role in stopping that fire is hosting two events to commemorate history.

The first is Friday, Sept. 5 at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City. Featured are Boston soprano Karen Vengerow and pianist Yukiko Oba performing an evening of 20th century composers, such as Samuel Barber and George Gershwin.

Saturday, the venue shifts to North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center on the Ridge. Among opera and Broadway tunes that Vengerow will sing is the world premiere of “The Great 49er Fire.”

“It is going to be sung to the Jerome Kern tune ‘The Last Time I Saw Paris,'” said Johnson, “which seems to have been the author’s intent from the first line.

“I was given this a few years ago by a former employee of NCSO but do not know who or where “T.J.,” its author, is. It is a odd and poignant folk epic and unusual for a small community like ours to have such a song.”

T.J., was the cell mate of Gary Wayne Parris, the man charged with starting the 49er Fire.

Both evenings start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for $15 are available at the door (free for firefighters in uniform) with proceeds benefiting the North San Juan Fire Department.

Call 292-9159 or e-mail for more information.

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