Email sent to members on 09/18/2020:

Dear Fellow Prospector,

To be brief, let me just say that conditions in Happy Camp have been very difficult since the 
wild fire swept down Indian Creek on September 8th. Nearly all residents of Happy Camp were 
evacuated. Our acting General Manager, Dickey Melton, defied mandatory evacuation orders and 
stayed behind. I have remained in daily communication with Dickey. He was able to locate our 
office staff members and remained in regular communication with them. They and their families 
were housed in hotels in Yreka, I believe by the American Red Cross. Christina has family in 

Since the fire, and up until 2 days ago, security in Happy Camp by authorities was very strict. 
One of our local Karuk New 49'er members, Dan Effman, attempted to open his Deli to feed anyone 
who was hungry at no cost. But he was immediately shut down by the authorities and warned that 
he would be arrested if he opened again.

Hunger aside, Dickey said the largest problem in Happy Camp was air quality. He was on the verge 
of passing out for day after day while he courageously remained in touch with our staff members, 
helped others in need, managed to secure some images, and checked the status of our building every 

We have confirmed the following: (1) The homes of Victoria Armstrong and Christina Johnson were 
completely destroyed. Both girls are vital to our office team in Happy Camp.There is more information 
about each gal, along with some before and after images, in the GoFundMe link down below. To 
stay as brief as possible, I will not repeat their stories. I will say that both girls are as 
loyal as can be to The New 49'ers and they are an important part of our administrative team. 
(2) Our office manager, Teyaw Chatneuf's home is closer to the river, so her house survived the 
fire. Though her water system that originates up the mountain was taken out by the fire. People 
are working on replacing that now. (3) Dickey Melton's home is in the center of  upper Happy Camp 
and survived the fire. Our building sustained no damage. (4) Neither Victoria or Christina had 
any fire insurance. While this might sound unusual, our area of California is considered a 
"high risk fire area" by the insurance companies. Therefore, insurance costs are priced outside 
of a normal person's ability to pay. Just as an example, the insurance broker who has covered 
our building for the past 35 years with never a claim of loss (cinder block construction, 
metal roofing) informed me last year that fire coverage would be $18,000 per month with a very 
high deductible. He shopped around for a better rate and this was the best he could do. This 
was shortly after a wildfire near Mount Shasta took out a large portion of the town of Weed 
several years ago. (5) Victoria and Christina remain in Yreka where they and their children have 
a place to live. I gather they do not have acceptable options right now in Happy Camp. 
(6) The work load in our office is overwhelming. The phone answering service is swamped; a huge 
pile of  (two weeks) of mail was delivered today; the September billing that was being worked on 
when the evacuation was ordered remains unfinished; the phone is ringing off the hook with members 
and supporters asking for updated information. I'm sure you get the idea. (7) Teyaw was able to 
catch up on unpaid bills today, while Dickey devoted the entire day to folding and stuffing September 
billings in envelopes.

In my notice about the fire to all our supporters two weeks ago, I asked if anyone would volunteer 
to create a GoFundMe site for Victoria and Christina. We need to get them back on their feet and back 
in our office! My prayer was answered by Curtis & Paula 'Oro' Hutson on the 10th of September. This 
was not an easy task, because they needed to obtain the personal stories of our two girls, both who 
were suffering from the numerous issues surrounding their circumstances (Dickey helped a lot with this). 
We also needed images of where their homes used to be. With no travel allowed around Happy Camp, 
Dickey was able to get one of our sheriff's deputies to go up Indian Creek and take some images. 
Banking details were needed. All of this happened very fast without even my knowledge. Then, we still 
had to test the GoFundMe system to make certain that every dollar of donated money was going to go to 
our girls. Money is being directed to a savings account held by Victoria. The girls will evenly split 
the donated money.  Dickey placed the first donation of $100 several days ago. An anonymous person also 
donated $50. As the girls were running low on money, Paula downloaded those donations into Victoria's 
account two days ago. Meanwhile, I donated $1,000.

We just received confirmation today that the full initial $150 has arrived in Victoria's account. 
This is what I have been waiting for, before sending this email to our list of members and supporters. 
One hundred percent of money donated to the following link will reach our girls. I wanted to be 

So here is the GoFundMe link:  Happy Camp Survivors Link  ( The link includes 
a short personal account of their very close encounter with this fire, some personal history, along 
with some images. You have my personal assurance that their stories are true. I am requesting as many 
of you as possible to donate something, even if you can afford only a small amount, to help our girls 
get back on their feet. We really need 
them to keep our program going!

If you cannot use a bank card, you can address your contribution to: 
Victoria Armstrong, C/O The New 49'ers, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039.

As of now, Dickey and Teyaw are manning the office between 9 am to 4 PM. The front door to the 
office will be open starting this coming Monday between 9 am and 1 pm. While there is still some 
haze in the air, which changes with the wind, conditions are much more like normal in Happy Camp. 
I understand all the normal business enterprises except the bank have reopened.  We believe the 
bank will open on Monday. The authorities are allowing people to travel back to Happy Camp and our 
mining properties along the river.

I know that many places in California, Oregon, Washington and other states within the western U.S. 
have been, and continue to, get slammed by wildfires. I have seen other GoFundMe appeals from people 
in some of those communities. This appeal for help is only being directed to our email subscription; 
to those of you who support our gold prospecting program.  Miners, and those who support us, have 
always been a tight knit group of special people. While times can be difficult, we always try to help 
each other, and we never leave our friends behind. Thank you very much for being there. The GoFundMe 
site lists the donations and who they are from (unless you choose to remain anonymous). We can all watch 
this appeal to help two of our most important staff members progress and get a read on how much support 
we truly have at this time.

Note: you can click on either Victoria or Paula as Teammates on the GoFundMe page. The money will go 
to Victoria's account either way.

Thank you for everything you guys do to help keep our program going!  Despite COVID, or perhaps because 
of it, this has been our most productive year since 2009. There still remain a few months of nice weather 
ahead of us.


Dave McCracken

Founder of The New 49'er Pros