A combination of hurricane-force winds and the snapping of an electrical pole starts the
Honda Canyon Fire on Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, early in the morning of
December 20, 1977. Over a thousand people consisting of professional firemen and military
personnel fight the fire. Outlier winds would increase to over a hundred miles per hour,
making the firefight almost impossible.
In the course of events, a conflict of cultures emerged. Military commanders, fearful of the
Base's cold war secrets being compromised, attempted to control the protocols and
procedures of the civilian fire fighters called upon to battle the enormous blaze, offering up
their own untrained personnel to fight a conflagration that, for all intents and purposes,
should have never been fought and couldn't be beaten.
Four fatalities and sixty-five injuries result. Almost ten thousand acres burn, resulting in
significant damage to the military installation infrastructure. Ironically and fortuitously, the
fire will be out, a little more than 30 hours later, due to an incoming Pacific rain storm. The Air Force quickly declares it a victory, a battle won by its brave Airmen. However, those who were there will tell you a different story.
Firestorm '77 recounts the confusion and chaos of December 1977 as told by those that were there on the front lines.