Angwin Sign
About Angwin...
Angwin is a community of about 3000 residents on Howell Mountain. We are in a coastal range of northern California, about 70 mi. north of San Francisco.
The Village ranges from 1600 to 2200 ft. elevation, overlooking the scenic Napa Valley. It is surrounded by vineyards and forests.
Many Angwin residents work for Pacific Union College, a liberal arts college with a national reputation, or the nearby St. Helena Hospital.

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Recent Articles heading
Jan 2, 2018

Recent Stories...Click to view

This is the first in a series of stories about forest fires which have penetrated Angwin or affected its residents in some way.

This is fire country .. part of Angwin history
Smoke rising behind Angwin vineyard
You probably wouldn't notice it at once. A thin column of white smoke rising straight up in a blue sky on the Angwin horizon. Within 15 minutes the column has flattened out and has begun to move lazily across the sky, carried by the prevailing wind.
But then it has begun a reality for us up here on Howell Mountain. In just a few minutes later, one hears the Angwin fire alarm shattering the tranquil air. And then the wail of sirens as the big red vehicles grind their way down Howell Mountain Road toward a highly visible wildfire now throwing yellow flames 30 ft. into the sky.
It all happens so fast, and so often and sometimes so close, that Angwinites see a major wildfire begin just a few miles away which could turn and come our way. The Butts Canyon Fire in 2014 did not turn toward Angwin. Fortunately. A prevailing wind carried it 12 miles northward, all the way to Snell Valley and beyond. If the wind had turned toward Angwin, it would have carried it into the neighborhoods of this community.
This is fire country, and a local body of community volunteerss has been organized to warn Angwin residents of the constant danger. The Angwin Reporter will contribute to this effort with a series of stories on fires which began close to Angwin or came this way. How we can protect your property from devastation and how to evacuate when the fireman says,
"No, you have to go now. Right now, Joe!"
We will run stories about six fires in Angwin history, fires which had begun as a white column of smoke on the Angwin horizon and could have come up Howell Mountain. This is fire country and part of our history.

The headline writer for the St. Helena Star found all the right words. The August 28, 1931, edition left no doubt about this one. It started here and threatened the existence of Pacific Union College and the Sanitarium, but spread for a week engaging fire fighters simultaneously in Pope Valley and St. Helena. Even as PUC professors and students were struggling valiantly with spades to smother the flames moving closer and closer to the school.
Three women from St. Helena came up to Angwin and set up shop in the college garage to serve coffee and sandwiches to the tired and hungry firefighters. Bear in mind that these were not the firefighters of today. They were untrained men of all ages, called out to move from one hot spot to another, to throw dirt on flaming grass and brush before it reached a farm house and barn. The Star mentioned that St. Helena had dispatched its "chemical engine" to protect the scattered farm buildings threatened by fires moving down the slopes from Angwin.
The Star named only two homes destroyed in an area which covered many square miles. The fires came to within half a mile of the campus, but the amateurs held the line. Fire fighters successfully saved the two health resorts (The White Cottage and the Woolworth) in their locations which would now be in the center of the Angwin community.
Angwin was not the concentration of homes which we now know. It consisted primarily of the college campus, the health resorts and scattered farms. The Star mentioned that a homeowner near the college had lost its woodshed and wood. Another loss was a four-room summer cabin. Otherwise this was a true forest fire, and the Star report made it clear that its most direct effect was the loss of timber which the farmers depended on for firewood. That plus "fencing and feed."
Such was the case for PUC, also, which had depended for more than 20 years on its timberlands to heat its dormitories and classrooms. The institution almost immediately switched to a "more modern" heating plant.
The 1931 fire may have started up here on Howell Mountain but it engaged the heroic day and night efforts of farmers and merchants coming from other places to confront a fire which had spread from Chiles Valley to north of Calistoga.
This one was, indeed, the "biggie" the Star described. As the headline writer wrote, Fierce, Forest Fire, and Fought.s