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Historic Fire Lookout Atop Mt. Harkness Destroyed By Dixie Flames

LASSEN COUNTY (CBS13) -- A historic fire lookout atop Mount Harkness in Lassen Volcanic National Park was destroyed Saturday night in the Dixie Fire.

Built in 1930, the two-story stone and wood tower was maintained and still used as an active lookout monitoring for fires in the park's Juniper Lake Area.

It sat at 8,046 feet elevation on the summit of an ancient shield volcano topped by a cinder cone, according to park officials.

Visitors were able to access the summit and lookout by trail from either Juniper Lake or Warner Valley, providing sweeping vistas from the lookout span from the Three Sisters peaks in Oregon to the north, the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the south, and the Coast Range to the west.

Fire staff resided in the lookout in the summer months and shared information on the lookout and operations with visitors.

Mount Harkness Fire Lookout continued to use many of the station's original technology and systems, according to the National Park Service website.

While some systems like the seismograph have since been replaced by digital seismic monitoring, Mount Harkness' fire observation tools have remained the same. Adopted in the 1850s, classic fire monitoring systems using maps and a compass function without electricity or Internet access as the lookout had neither.

The building itself has seen a few upgrades over its many decades of service, including the addition of a weather monitoring station and radio repeater (powered by solar panels) and conversion from a wood to propane stove.

Extreme winters, rugged terrain and regular use left the Mount Harkness Fire Lookout in regular need of maintenance. In recent years, park staff and partners replaced the roof and rehabilitated the original wooden doors and windows.

All of Lassen Volcanic National Park remains closed due to the Dixie Fire.

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