The fake eruption of Mt. Edgecumbe was the work of a local prankster, 50-year-old Oliver “Porky” Bickar. The idea to ignite the volcano had occurred to him in 1971. As soon as he thought of the idea, he knew he had to do it. So he collected 70 old tires that he kept in an airplane hangar. But he had to wait three years, until April Fool’s Day 1974, until the visibility conditions were just right for the prank.
Concerned residents spilled out of their homes onto the streets to gaze up at the volcano. Calls poured in to local authorities. The Coast Guard commander radioed the Admiral in Juneau who ordered a chopper be sent out to investigate.
As the Coast Guard pilot approached Mt. Edgecumbe, the plume of smoke grew in size. Finally he was right above it, and he peered down into the crater. At first, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He looked more closely, and then he laughed. Stacked in the cone of the volcano, burning with a greasy flame, was a huge pile of old tires. And spray-painted in the snow beside the tires, in 50-foot-high black letters, were the words “APRIL FOOL.”
Porky’s favorite response to the prank was when he received a letter from an attorney, inside of which was a clipping from the Denver Post with a photo of Mt. St. Helens erupting. Attached was a note that read, “This time, you little bastard, you’ve gone too far.” [x]
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