History of the Weed City
The Long-Bell Fire Department
(article by Alford Linville)
When Abner Weed built his first sawmill in 1900-1901, in what was
to become the town of Weed, there was no fire department. Everyone that
worked at the plant was expected to respond to any fire around the plant
or the town, when they heard the fire whistle.
For fire projection, Abner Weed built a concrete reservoir on top of a
hill west of the Mill, with a capacity of 800,000 gallons of water, to
supply the fire lines and the hydrants installed around the plant and
town. He also had a number of hose houses, each eight feet square and
eight feet high, which housed a two-wheeled cart. Each cart held a
couple of hundred feet of fire hose, a brass nozzle, and two wrenches
for coupling and uncoupling the fire hoses. The fire hose was on a reel
for quick and easy use in case of fire. In fact, three or four men could
strong out any number of feet of hose and have water on a fire in a
matter of minutes.
In 1923, Long-Bell built a new firehouse on the bank of the old log pond
where the old mills were, between the machine shop and the dry kilns.
They bought a new American-La France fire engine, and also brought seven
firemen from one of their Long-Bell plants in the south, probably
Longville, Louisiana, to man the new fire station.
Dorian Small was the fire chief, and the firemen that I remember on that
first crew were Wayne, Jim and Bill Small, (brothers to the chief), Mike
Hogan, George and Shorty Bangaman, and George Oeschgar, (pronounced
Oscar). There were also several single men who got free lodging at the
fire station by helping out on fire calls at night.
When Chief Small left Weed in 1942, Captain George Oeschgar took over as
fire chief. At that time, the company had two American-La France fire
engines and a built-up 1937 four-wheel drive pickup with a fire pump
mounted on the front. When Fire Chief Oeschgar retired in the early
1970s, Warden "Pop" Bates was chief, and when he retired, Bud Riley was
the fire chief.
The worst fire Long-Bell had at their Weed plant occurred on November 2,
1949, when the green chain at the sawmill caught fire. For a while, in
looked like the sawmill might go up in smoke too, but the sprinkler
system working, and with about a hundred employees helping the
firemen, a catastrophe was averted and the mill was saved. Only about
half of the green chain was lost to the fire. With the carpenters
working around the clock to repair the green chain, the sawmill was only
down a couple of days.
International Paper Company, who had bought on Long-Bell Lumber Company
in 1957, closed the Weed plant on December 10, 1981. Roseburg Lumber
Company bought the Weed plant in 1982, and made an agreement with the
City of Weed for the operation of the Weed Fire Department. Larry Hogue
was named fire chief and held that position until his retirement. At the
present time, Darin Quigley is the fire chief of the City of Weed Fire
The Shastina Volunteer Fire Department
(article by Alford Linville)
The Shastina Fire Department was organized in 1928 after two disastrous
fires, one in 1927 and one in 1928, destroyed a number of homes and
businesses in Shastina. The businessmen in Shastina got together with
the Long-Bell Lumber Company and made an agreement with them for
assistance in fighting fires in Shastina and the South Highway area.
The following is taken from a report prepared in 1951 by Clifford A.
Ommert, Engineer, Board of Fire Underwriters of the Pacific, 215 Battery
Street, San Francisco, California:
"Shastina Fire Department:
Volunteers with a membership of 35. Fully organized and drilled.
Department responds only upon special call.
Public alarm only. All calls go to alarm headquarters located in the
fire station at the Long-Bell Lumber Company, where a 24-hour watch is
maintained. Upon receipt of alarm, the Long-Bell department responds.
The chief's car is equipped with a two-way radiom and if additional
assistance is needed in the way of volunteers, the alarm operator
trips the district siren, which calls out the Shastina Department."
The district siren was located on the hill above Layton's Liquors.
At the time of this report, the Long-Bell Fire Department consisted of
Fire Chief George Oeschgar and eleven firemen. The equipment on hand
included one 1000g.p.m. FWD pumper, (1950); one 1000g.p.m. La France
pumper, (1922); one 750g.p.m. La France pumper, (1922); one 500g.p.m.
front mount pump on a built-up 1937 truck (jointly owned by the county
and the fire district); and one 400g.p.m. front mount pump on a 1936
In 1952 the Shastina Fire District obtained a new 1000-gallon pumper,
which was stationed at the Long-Bell fire station. It was about this
time that Assistant General Manager Julian White reorganized the
Long-Bell Fire Department and the Shastina Volunteer Fire Department, by
increasing the number of volunteers and cutting back the number of
company paid firemen. The volunteers were increased to approximately
fifty, and Bud Riley was the Volunteer Fire Chief. The Shastina
Volunteer Fire Department's name was changed to the Weed Volunteer Fire
For a number of years the Volunteer Firemen put on two social events
every year. The Firemen's Picnic in the summer, and the Fireman's Ball
(held at the Hippodrome every winter), and both were enjoyed greatly by
the people of Weed.
Since the International Paper Company closed the plant in Weed, the City
of Weed runs the fire department.