Incredibly, a caverns retired employee passed away for the second day in a row on January 28, 2010. Tim Stubbs, former caverns Fire Management Officer, passed away unexpectedly while on a fire training in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Retired from the National Park Service on February 3, 2003, Mr. Stubbs was serving as a contract firefighter.
Mr. Timothy Charles Stubbs was born on August 19, 1950 in California (I assume; anyone who knows where, please provide me exact city information on my Facebook page. Thank you.) There is a wealth of information about Tim on his Facebook page. Scanning his FB information page (unfortunately we only hooked up on FB shortly before his untimely passing I see now that we shared a kindred sense of humor. Working together at the caverns from March 1990 until February Tim and I certainly were in very different occupations that prevented us crossing paths much, (my limited NPS firefighting experience came to a screeching halt in 1987 at the caverns when, at the age of 40, I couldn’t qualify for the firefighter physical via the step test), but we did see each other at meetings etc. from time to time.
The main memory I had of Tim during those days was his courage to speak his mind no matter who (of whatever rank/position) was in the same room. Bureaucracies seldom abound in such employee courage in my experience: maybe because such behavior is often frowned on by some employee supervisors.
Tim began his National Park Service career in 1969 with a seasonal Tree Laborer position at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in California. He did several similar seasons there 1971 – 1977 .
In 1976, Tim earned his Botany degree at San Diego State University after having attended Humboldt State University
In 1980 Tim received a career-conditional (permanent position) as a Park Ranger at Sequoia and Kings Canyon and worked there until he transferred to Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee in October 1985. On March 19, 1990, Tim transferred to Carlsbad Caverns National Park as our Fire Management Officer.
From the 1996 Oral History Interview with Management Assistant Bob Crisman (just a couple references to park fire history):
The “Big Fire”, the largest fire in the park’s history, hit in 1990. It started on May 13th in Lincoln National Forest west of the park in the vicinity of Virgin Cave. And I recall, it was finally determined that Boy Scouts camped up there probably caused it. It burned up 10 days, covered a little over 33,000 acres, including about a third of the park. We had some horrendous 50-mile an hour winds driving the fire from the west to the east, allowing it to make very rapid growth each day. Of course, this one also came right up to New Cave. At its height we had over 700 people assigned to it, five helicopters and five tankers, four other airplanes, and seven engines on the ground. Of course, Tim Stubbs had come on board as our Fire Management Officer that year so that was his first experience with a big fire in the Carlsbad area. He’d probably been involved in some big ones elsewhere
there was a large fire at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in 1993 that threatened their visitor center. Tim Stubbs, who had just come on board, really made some heroic efforts, and with the efforts of some others, saved their new visitor center from that fire, a noteworthy event.
1995—April-- A 3,637 acre prescribed burn was successfully carried out April 11-15. It was the largest prescribed fire in the history of the park, as well as one of the largest ever conducted in a unit of the National Park System in the southwest.
Tim retired from the National Park Service on February 3, 2003, but stayed in the Carlsbad area serving as a contract firefighter, a job that he was performing at the time of his passing.
From Wildfire Today regarding Tim Stubbs and how fellow firefighters and others cared about him. More about Tim at Wildfire.com
Some pictures of Tim and his lovely family:
Everyone at the park and beyond the park who knew Tim offers the Stubbs family our support in this time of your loss of a family member. We have lost a valued friend and former co-employee.
May Tim RIP.
Former CAVE Park Historian
Thanks to Sharon Williams of the National Park Service for her information assistance.