Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Frederick Eugene Evans

 Frederick Eugene Evans, age 84, passed away on July 20, 2020 at Mark Twain

 St. Joseph's Hospital of natural causes.
   He was born May 24, 1936 in a tar paper shack of his grandparents' farm on the Mosely Prairie in Oklahoma, which is outside Siloam Springs, Arkansas, the first child of Leslie B. Evans and Mildred C. Evans.
   Frederick spent his early life going to school, working on the farm and doing odd jobs; everything from bucking hay to picking cherries.  He said he was good at bucking hay but bad at picking cherries.
    During the droughts, his father would pick up the family and move wherever there was work, which eventually led him to Ceres, CA, where he graduated from high school in 1953.
   Frederick worked his first fire season that summer as a seasonal firefighter for California Division of Forestry (now CalFire) at the Murphys Fire Station.
    He then joined the Army in 1954 and spent his first year in Korea. After spending three years in the service, he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1957.
   Frederick started his higher education at Northeastern State College in Oklahoma, in 1958 transferring to Modesto J.C., where he acquired his AA degree in 1959.
   That summer he returned to being a seasonal firefighter and during winters went back to Northeastern State.  In 1962 he was offered a job as a forest fire truck driver/engineer at the West Point station and he decided he was a better firefighter than student and a lot better at it than picking cherries, so he dropped out of college and devoted his life to that occupation.
   On December 19, 1965 while working as a CDF fire truck driver, he married the love of his life, a fiery Mexican with an iron will named Margarita Gonzales. 
   They had three children and a loving marriage until her passing on March 6, 2005.
   In 1965 he was promoted to Forest Firefighter Foreman/Captain in San Andreas. Throughout his early career Frederick received a reputation as a very aggressive firefighter with a strong belief in fighting fire with fire and whenever viable he used that tactic.
    By the time of his appointment to State Forest Ranger 1 Battalion Chief in 1981, he had acquired two nicknames, Fireout Freddie and the more commonly known Drip Torch Freddie.
   From 1981 to 1982 he was in charge of the Emergency Command Center for Tuolumne-Calaveras Ranger unit, returning to the field in 1982 in charge of Batallion 1 in San Andreas.
   Frederick was always proud of the men he worked with and believed that the Tuolumne-Calaveras unit was the best fire-fighting unit in the state.
   Whenever taking strike teams out of the county, he always tried to prove it by taking the most demanding assignments.
   As a batallion chief, he was a big proponent of vegetation management burns and tried to have at least one a year  and ran a number of very large control burns.
   Frederick believed they served a number of important functions; provided better habitat for wildlife (he believed that nothing lives in the middle of 40 acres of chamisen), second fuel load reduction (if you have a fire it is easier to put out, and that the more fire you experience in training, the better you are at the real fires.
   He did a lot of different projects while working for CDF, from building a rock wall at the West Point Station to building a radio tower at San Andreas.
   Frederick led by example by walking fire lines and even packing hose until his retirement in 1992. At the time of his retirement, he was one of the most respected firemen in the state.
   He was a man who loved his work and spent summers fighting fire while Margarita raised the kids in Valley Springs.
   After his retirement, Fred and Margarita spent a lot of time together on road trips to Alaska, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
   He was an avid deer hunter and when he wasn't fighting fire in the fall, he was hunting deer with friends that liked to hike the hills and mountains like him.
    He also loved deep sea fishing and spent two weeks a year fishing off the north coast of California, mostly out of Albion even though he got seasick regularly.
   Fred was a big football fan and went to games regularly from his senior year of high school, when he first learned to play, to the end of his life.
   In his later years he became a fan of local oval track racing, traveling from Madera to Roseville, but watched most races at the Stockton 99 Speedway.  He regularly donated everything from tires to tools for a few different race teams.
   He attended retirement breakfasts once a month in Angels Camp with his friends.
   Frederick Eugene Evans was predeeded in death by his wife Margarita Evans of Valley Springs, sister Carol Thomson of Mission, Texas, father Leslie B. Evans and mother Mildred C. Evans of Siloam Springs, Oklahoma.
    He is survived by sons Michael John Evans of Grovetown, Georgia and Mitchell James Evans of Valley Springs and daughter Melisa Julian Millwood of Grovetown, Georgia; granddaughter Angelica Meadows of Cullman, Alabama and grandson Sean Millwood of Grovetown, Georgia; six brother-in-laws and five sister-in-laws and lots of nephews and nieces. 
   Frederick was a very kind and generous man  who was always willing to help out his family, friends and neighbors. He will be sorely missed.
   Due to Covid restrictions, there can be no memorial at this time. A dinner is planned at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds at the end of January, 2021.
   If you plan to attend, please send an email to  The photo of Frederick is in the 1970's on a firing line at night holding a drip torch.

No comments: