Hayfork is a small community in northern California about 40 miles west of Redding. On February 1, 1945 a Japanese bombing balloon was spotted by several local residents drifting over the Trinity National Forest area and slowly decending. No one knew what it was, but an alert forest ranger called the military authorities at the Presidio of San Francisco and reported it. Meanwhile the balloon came to rest atop a 60 foot dead fir tree in the forest near a local road. In the next few hours several people gathered in the area to gaze up at the strange object.
Shortly after dark there
was a trernendous blast. The balloon's gas bag disappeared in
a fireball and the balloon's undercarriage came crashing to the
ground. No one was hurt. Forest rangers kept the curious well
back from the fallen debris until Army personnel arrived, Upon
examination, it was found to be a Japanese bombing balloon with
four incendiary bombs and one high explosive bomb still aboard
and the bomb releasing mechanism still very much intact. It later
proved to be one of the most intact bombing balloons yet to fall
American hands. As was usual in instances of thissort, the local people were told what it was and were asked to keep secret what they had seen.
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