Castle Valley Comments

I can’t remember exactly when I first met Floyd Stoughton. It was probably sometime in 1985 when he began building his house on Shafer Lane. But whenever it was, I’ve enjoyed our association and friendship for these last many years

These thoughts came to mind when I received the call from Floyd’s son, Curt, that Floyd had passed away just 20 days short of his 89th birthday, last Wednesday, September 4 at 6:40 pm.

Most people will remember him as the Castle Valley fire chief for nearly two decades. The newly reorganized fire district commissioners appointed him fire chief at a time when the fire department was on the brink of extinction. Most of the original firefighters either moved or were busy trying to make a living and building a house during the depressed economy of the 1980s.

Floyd was responsible for upgrading the fire department to a more capable and modern entity to better serve the community. During his tenure as fire chief he negotiated a CIB grant to build a new firehouse and worked out a deal with the town to put the building on the town lot. Not too long after he approached the CIB again to purchase a new high-powered fire engine to serve the community even better by quickly carrying a lot of water to a fire scene.

I attended some of those CIB meetings with him and I was impressed with the way he presented our case to the board. He prepared himself for the questions that might be asked of him by the board so he was ready with a quick answer, something he learned as an electrical engineer in charge of large projects for big corporations where he worked before retirement.

Everyone liked Floyd and most people will also remember him for his friendly greetings when they crossed paths around town. He was intelligent and thought things through before making a decision about fire department things and in his personal life. I was with him when we watched helplessly as the historic old Dewey Bridge burned down and related a story of when he and his family crossed the bridge years before he moved here. He said that one of the kids was afraid to cross the bridge in the car so he walked across only to burn his bare feet on the hot surface of the bridge.

He was born in Murrysville, Pennsylvania on Sept. 24, 1930 and lived in Long Island, New York before settling in Michigan before his move to Castle Valley in 1985. He leaves behind his wife Lenora and six children and many friends and associates. All who knew him will miss him.

The Castle Valley Fire Department was paged out to a reported fire on Miller Lane at about 10 p.m. Sept. 3. Two engines and four fire volunteers responded to the lower Miller Lane location only to find the resident burning a pile of cardboard boxes. The owner said he was not aware of the town ordinance banning open burning when the fire danger is listed at “high” or above, which is posted near the mail boxes.

A similar incident occurred a month previous at the upper end of Bailey Lane. The part-time resident also pleaded ignorance to the ordinance while burning piles of brush and tree limbs at night. In both cases the fire danger was listed at “very high” and the weather was hot and dry, which is perfect conditions for a fire to quickly get out of control.

A fire quickly got out of control Sept. 7 on lower Chamisa Lane when a spark from a welding and grinding project ignited dry grass. The fire officer on call that day got a phone call from the Sheriff’s dispatch asking to check on a smoke report somewhere on the Castleton Road.

As the officer was responding he spotted smoke in the town and turned around to where he thought the smoke was coming from but traveled too far up Castle Valley Drive before he spotted the smoke again and found the source at the end of Chamisa Lane.

The officer said a spark started the fire in a grassy area and traveled across a parking area to a pile of yard debris that was to be burned when the open fire season opens up. The 15- to 20-foot flames worked their way to the outer wall of an outbuilding and came close to getting into the creek bottom before being contained by people at the scene. By the time the fire officer arrived the fire was under control.

Even with the rain Tuesday morning the fire danger is still listed as “very high” and the potential is still present for a fire to quickly get out of control.