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TRAPPING A FOREST FIRE BUG

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looking across the country a mile or so saw a small fire on the Curtiss ranch leased by Webster, and rode over to investigate and help put it out. Nobody seemed to know how it had started and after the ranchers had gone Ranger Simmons carefully went over the burned area but found nothing more suspicious than the prints of a horse's hoofs in an out-of-the-way place. These were not old prints but had evidently been made before the fire, as burned grass filled the depressions. The keen eye of the ranger noted

CAMPERS ARE NOT ALWAYS CAREFUL ABOUT PUTTING OUT THEIR FIRES. slight malformation, a nick, in one of the hoof prints, and he made a force of men to fight it. They went first mental note of it.

to Webster's ranch house and found him The next day, the nineteenth of Oc- busily digging and apparently unaware tober, 1909, Ranger Simmons once more of the cloud of smoke just over the ridge saw smoke in the same neighborhood just behind him. He expressed great surabout noon and again rode over in that prise but said he was ready to help and direction, but was met by Fire Warden mounted his grey stallion to ride over, Steinmeyer who said there was no hurry first taking a pair of pliers out of his as the fire was already under control, hip pocket and throwing them on the being handled by Daniel Webster, ground. Steinmeyer and Webster then Ranger Sears and a couple of ranchers. hurried toward the fire while Sears rode

It seems that Ranger Sears had seen over to get help from the Strong broththe fire first and immediately rode out ers who lived near by. After summonwith Fire Warden Steinmeyer to get a ing them he took a short cut across the

ridge and presently saw Steinmeyer and Webster ahead of him, the latter lagging behind and afoot, as he had tied the stallion in a safe place. Evidently Webster was not expecting any observation from the rear, for while he kept his eye on Warden Steinmeyer he would occasionally stop, strike a match and start a small blaze in the dry grass as he walked along

Sears put his horse to the gallop and took the "fire bug" by surprise, but the young man had a ready excuse; he said he was starting back fires. As the fire had passed on a full half mile to the east, however, and there was a westerly wind blowing, this seemed a rather flimsy pretext to the ranger and he decided to keep a strict watch on the incendiary.

Presently the fire was under control

and Steinmeyer rode back and met This Is What WARDEN STEINMEYER, Who TRAPPED THE FIREBUG, FIRST SAW.

Ranger Simmons near the point where

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Webster had tied

along a trail, first his mount. The

experimenting and two men discussed

adjusting the lens the problem of

so that at high how the blaze had

noon precisely, the started and the

plane of the lens mystery surround

being at right ing the recent out

angles to the south, breaks and the too

the focus would be perfect alibi

upon the matches. brought up by

Then the addition Webster in each

of a little dry grass instance. As this

and leaves would was near the point

be sufficient to where the fire on

start a destructive the previous day

blaze. At the hour had originated,

set for the infernal Ranger Simmons

machine to ignite, thought it would

the man who made be a good idea to

it could be miles make a thorough

and miles away. In examination. He

fact by setting the spoke of having

device on a certain gone over the

day after the sur ground and finding

had passed the methe hoof prints,

ridian, by even a those of an unshod

few minutes, it horse with a pecul

would be ignited iar nick in its right

on the following fore foot. Then

day almost a full HUNTERS SOMETIMES START FIRES TO DRIVE OUT he noticed the stal

THE GAME,

twenty-four hours lion near by, which Note the bear on the hillside.

later. he knew to be

Simmons and Webster's, and the two men went over, Steinmeyer decided to leave the little raised the stallion's hoofs and found that device where they had found it and try they corresponded with the prints, being to entrap the guilty man. unshod and having the peculiar nick in As they were about to leave, they one hoof. This looked suspicious but it found a couple of short lengths of was not evidence. The men went over

twisted wire which had been cut with the ground on their hands and knees and a pair of pliers, and the noticeable point presently Steinmeyer sang out excitedly, was that the cut had not been made at "Look here what I've found !"

one stroke, but each wire had been cut It was a find indeed. It consisted of separately. Now, there are various kinds a piece of ordinary double strand fence of pliers, some of which would sever the wire, about a foot long, twisted together. two strands at one stroke and others One end was spread, forming a two- which are so small that they would retined fork which held the lens of a pair quire two cuts, as in this case, and the of spectacles. The lower end was men stored up the facts in their minds stuck firmly into the ground and just for future reference. where the lens would focus the sun's They rode back to the fire fighters, rays upon them, were the half-charred found that the blaze was completely exstumps of several parlor matches. The tinguished, and the whole party returned device was a striking example of per- along the trail by which they had come. verted ingenuity, and the two men could Simmons made a sign to the other two see at a glance how easy it would be to forest officers to let Webster take the set this inconspicuous object in an ob- lead, and the rest followed in Indian file at scure place among the grass and weeds, his heels. Presently Webster started off TRAPPING A FOREST FIRE BUG

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the trail to make a detour through the marked, casually. Then he added, "I burned brush, but the others did not fol- guess I'll just keep this as a souvenir," low as he had hoped. Instead of that, and tried to slip the glass into his pocket; Simmons called him back. “Why are but Ranger Simmons was collecting souyou going that roundabout way?" he venirs himself at that time, and the bits asked. Webster made some non-com- of wire, burnt matches and lens were mittal reply, and Simmons pointed to turned over to Forest Supervisor Marthe bit of wire and lens on the other shall, who had seen the fire from his side of the trail.

office in San Diego, nineteen miles away, "Dan," he said, "what do you suppose

and hastened out, arriving that evening. that thing is?"

Now, the Forest Supervisor at San The young man immediately stooped Diego is a man who has a genius for and brushed aside the stump of matches details, and his preparation of the case, and uprooted the twisted wire. “The built up on circumstantial evidence, was fellow that put that there was on to his a matter of trifling details skilfully pieced job all right," he chuckled. "He was as together. clever as the chap that put candle and He adroitly questioned Webster before matches in the rat's nest.”

witnesses, and one of the first things he No one had suggested to him that this did was to destroy that gentleman's repuinconspicuous bit of baling wire and its tation for veracity in an apparently offfragment of glass was a firebug's device, hand manner. and the fact that he grasped the signifi- "How about that grass fire the other cance of it at once had its weight with day,” he asked, "the one that burned the jury later on at the trial.

Mr. Dale's fence posts? Have you any Webster saw his mistake and tried to idea who started that little blaze ?” divert suspicion by calling attention to a "No, indeed," answered Webster, "I speck on the lens. "This has been here couldn't say who started it, but I was so long that it is fly-specked," he re- one of the men who helped put it out, and if it hadn't been for me, Mr. Dale that would require two strokes to sever would have lost all his fence."

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the twisted strands of wire, just as the Then Rancher Dale was called in and pieces of the “infernal machine" had questioned. "Have you any idea, Mr. been severed. Dale, who started that fire which burned Such was the evidence that went beyour fence posts?"

fore the jury in the Federal court when "I certainly have," replied Dale. the case came to trial. On careful search “Daniel Webster started it; he told me of the ground where the fire had origiso himself and offered to pay for the nated, a second igniting device was burned posts."

found about four hundred feet from the Then Webster was suddenly asked first, and this exactly corresponded with what he had been doing in that dis- it. This was photographed just as it tant part of the ranch the day before the stood and enlargements to natural size fire broke out. He denied having been were made and placed before the jury, in that vicinity for weeks, and when con- with a speedy conviction as a result. fronted with the evidence of the nick in The sentence was comparatively light, the fresh hoof prints that corresponded only four months in jail, but the legal with that of his grey stallion, he relapsed expenses practically stripped the ingeninto mere defiance and suggested that ious Mr. Webster so that in the long run the forest supervisor might ask the horse he would probably have found it more if he wanted to know anything further. economical to have secured a burning

Finally, the slight incident of the permit and hired three or four men to rancher throwing away a pair of pliers watch the fire. before starting to the fire was brought Much credit is due the forest offiup and the tool was produced. It was cials who prosecuted this case in the face found that these pliers were of the type

of adverse criticism by the very persons

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READY FOR A FOREST FIRE-ONE OF INNUMERABLE INSTANCES OF

CRIMINAL CARELESSNESS.
Logged district on private land where the brush is not piled, but is left recklessly scattered.

who had the best reason for co-operating ious man would hesitate to violate the to punish the incendiary, the ranchers in law if he were sure of speedy punishthat vicinity. In forest fire cases it is ment. exceedingly difficult to secure convic- Campers seem to be the worst offendtions, as the trouble usually starts in ers, and this includes sportsmen, prosthinly-settled parts of the country, and pectors and travelers. In the California moreover, the rangers and fire wardens Forest Fire report of 1909 they are who see a blaze cannot stop to gather blamed for one hundred and fourteen evidence; their main business is to put

fires. Hunters, who intentionally set out the fire. Hence, out of 307 fires fires to drive out game, are made responsuspected of being set in violation of the sible for twenty-one such conflagrations. laws in California during the year 1909 The report sums up the attitude of most only eighteen convictions resulted, and of these people with the following pat fines amounting to $385.00 were distrib- remark: "Most of them would call uted among seventeen offenders, while themselves nature lovers, but their love one of these enemies of society got a of nature is not strong enough to prompt ninety-day sentence.

them to be sure that their camp-fires are Such leniency causes trouble for the out, or to be careful of their matches and fire fighters, as even a careless or malic- tobacco."

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