Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Smokey Bear!

On August 9, 1944, the first poster of Smokey Bear was prepared. Smokey Bear soon became popular, and his image began appearing on other posters and cards.

On May 6th, 1950 the human caused Captain Gap fire began. With high winds and having to cover over a mile of rough road, fire crews were in a race against time.

On May 8th, the wind made it impossible to control the fire and on this day nineteen fire fighters were forced to escape to a rock slide while the fire burned over them. They were rescued without any fatalities. It was on May 9th that the face of forest fire prevention changed forever with the discovery of a badly singed bear cub.

Briefly named "Hotfoot Teddy" he was about to take his place in history as the "living symbol" of Smokey Bear. Found clinging to a charred tree, the tiny cub was brought back to fire camp by a group of Ft. Bliss soldiers, who had come to help fight the Capitan Gap fire. New Mexico game warden Ray Bell, who had been flying over the fire, had heard of the burned cub. Ray knew the cub needed medical attention, so he loaded the cub in the airplane and took him to Dr. Ed Smith in Santa Fe, who treated the cubs burns. But it was Ruth Bell (Ray's wife) and daughter Judy who were able to get the little cub to eat.

Photographer Harold Walter took the first photos of Smokey while he posed with Judy Bell.

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