US

California Wildfires Burn Nearly $2 Million Worth Of Historical Silicon Valley Documents

The wildfires in northern California destroyed a number of legendary documents valued at roughly $2 million, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

The highly prized, but essentially priceless files included archives of correspondence between William Hewlett and David Packard, the eponymous tech pioneers who created the famous electronics company Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 1938.

The documents, which amounted to more than 100 boxes worth of speeches, communications, and other writings, were appraised in 2005 at roughly $2 million. They were originally a part of a larger set of archives valued at $3.3 million. But many with knowledge of the unique documentation know that they’re of incalculable worth, since they tell a story of entrepreneurship that helped incite and establish a whole epicenter of commercial and technological innovation colloquially known today as Silicon Valley.

SANTA ROSA, CA -OCTOBER 15: A firefighter uses a drip torch to set a backfire to protect houses in Adobe Canyon during the Nuns Fire on October 15, 2017 near Santa Rosa, California. At least 40 people were killed while many are still missing, and at least 5,700 buildings have been destroyed since wildfires broke out a week ago. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

SANTA ROSA, CA -OCTOBER 15: A firefighter uses a drip torch to set a backfire to protect houses in Adobe Canyon during the Nuns Fire on October 15, 2017 near Santa Rosa, California. At least 40 people were killed while many are still missing, and at least 5,700 buildings have been destroyed since wildfires broke out a week ago. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

SANTA ROSA, CA - OCTOBER 23: Ben Hernandez Jr. (L) sifts through the remains of his Coffey Park home that was destroyed by the Tubbs Fire on October 23, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Residents are returning to their homes after a fast moving and deadly widlfire destroyed 8,400 structures and claimed the lives of at least 42 people. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SANTA ROSA, CA – OCTOBER 23: Ben Hernandez Jr. (L) sifts through the remains of his Coffey Park home that was destroyed by the Tubbs Fire on October 23, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Residents are returning to their homes after a fast moving and deadly widlfire destroyed 8,400 structures and claimed the lives of at least 42 people. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

What seems to be most frustrating is that the archives were not long ago stored in facilities equipped with specialized vaults and flame retardants.

“A huge piece of American business history is gone,” Brad Whitworth, who had been an HP international affairs manager with oversight of the archives three decades ago, told the Press Democrat. HP had long been at the forefront of an industry “that has radically changed our world,” he continued.

California has been dealing with really dangerous wildfires, as well as the serious and sometimes fatal results, for multiple months.

WRIGHTWOOD, CA - AUGUST 18: A firefighting helicopter pilot tries to stop flames close to jumping a ridge, even though the ridge is already painted red with fire retardant, above Cajon Boulevard at the Blue Cut Fire on August 18, 2016 near Wrightwood, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

WRIGHTWOOD, CA – AUGUST 18: A firefighting helicopter pilot tries to stop flames close to jumping a ridge, even though the ridge is already painted red with fire retardant, above Cajon Boulevard at the Blue Cut Fire on August 18, 2016 near Wrightwood, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

“This could easily have been prevented, and it’s a huge loss,” said Karen Lewis, the former HP staff archivist who was responsible for first collecting the historic materials, according to the Press Democrat.

The documents were transferred from allegedly more well-protected facilities in 2014 to Keysight Technologies, the world’s largest electronics measurement company that has HP roots.

A portion of Keysight’s campus was destroyed by wildfires, but a large majority survived the fires. (RELATED: Some Hobbyists’ Drones Are Interrupting Firefighting Efforts In Northern California, Says FAA)

The company denies allegations that it didn’t do all it could to safeguard the precious documents.

“Keysight took appropriate and responsible steps to protect the company archives, but the most destructive firestorm in state history prevented efforts to protect portions of the collection,” a spokesman told the Press Democrat. “This is a sad, unfortunate situation — like many others in Sonoma County now. This is a time to begin healing, not assigning blame.”

Follow Eric on Twitter

Send tips to [email protected].

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].