The Night Johnny Cash Set 500-Acres of Forest on Fire

Cash

Johnny Cash started a massive ring of fire on June 27th of 1965. It was in California’s Los Padres National Forest.

According to Cash’s FBI file acquired via the Freedom of Information Act, the music icon said his camper shot sparks out of its faulty exhaust system after getting stuck along the side of the road. Cash tried to gun the engine and accidentally lit the forest ablaze.

Cash’s nephew, Damon Fielder, was on the fishing trip with Cash when the fire started. According to his story, Uncle John was just drunk and allowed their campfire to get out of control. The blaze burned 508 acres of forest, spread across three mountains, and 49 of the area’s 53 California condors disappeared.

Ring of Fire

After feigning illness to avoid a court date, the “Ring of Fire” singer eventually paid a fine of $82,001 in damages.

πŸ”ΉThroughout his career, Cash would often perform in prisons and recorded two live albums during those performances β€” Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison in 1968 and Johnny Cash at San Quentin in 1969.

πŸ”ΉCash was actually arrested seven times total for charges including reckless driving, drug use and public drunkenness, though he never spent more than a few nights in jail.

πŸ”ΉOne of his arrests was for picking flowers in Starkville, Mississippi, when he drunkenly took flowers from someone’s yard at 2 a.m. At the Starkville jail, he kicked the door so hard he broke his toe and later recorded a song about the experience.


πŸ”ΉIn 1981, Cash was attacked by his pet ostrich, Waldo. The big bird left him with five broken ribs and internal bleeding. The attack happened on the grounds of the exotic animal park Cash had established behind the House of Cash offices in Tennessee.

πŸ”ΉIn his book Cash: The Autobiograph, the musician wrote that Waldo was “not happy” to see him one day and that he swiped at the animal with a stick to show him who was boss.

“I missed,” Cash wrote. “He wasn’t there. He was in the air, and a split second later he was on his way down again, with that big toe of his, larger than my size-thirteen shoe, extended toward my stomach. He made contact β€” I’m sure there was never any question he wouldn’t β€” and frankly, I got off lightly. All he did was break my two lower ribs and rip my stomach open down to my belt, If the belt hadn’t been good and strong, with a solid belt buckle, he’d have spilled my guts exactly the way he meant to. As it was, he knocked me over onto my back and I broke three more ribs on a rock β€” but I had sense enough to keep swinging the stick, so he didn’t get to finish me. I scored a good hit on one of his legs, and he ran off.”

In the history of music, Johnny Cash definitely is one of the best-known names in the industry.

Cash

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

JOHNNY CASH MUSEUM

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6 thoughts on “The Night Johnny Cash Set 500-Acres of Forest on Fire

      1. Johnny did a few covers I think, during his last albums with American label. He never lost his touch, although it is haunting to hear the changes of voice and wellbeing from early gospel to late gospel. (Kinda funny that his entire career was sandwiched between gospel phases.)

        Liked by 2 people

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