Alto Fire Department
Railroad Tunnel Fire, Tunnel Collapse
23-year-old Alto firefighter Frank Kinsler died July 1961 in San Rafael. Kinsler, responding to a fire started by two Santa Venetia boys in a Northwestern Pacific Railroad tunnel under Lincoln Avenue, was crushed when his fire truck plunged 50 feet into the chasm during a cave-in. It took nearly two days to extract his body from tons of concrete and dirt that covered the truck and swallowed part of an apartment building when the roof of the burning tunnel collapsed.
Kinsler, who joined the Alto Richardson Bay Department, now part of the Southern Marin Fire Protection District, six months earlier, was trying to move the truck to safer ground that night. He was found in the cab of the truck with part of an oxygen mask on his face.