By Margaret Magnus
The need for a "fireproof" garage/workshop to house the new Kubota Tractor and support work at Meher Mount was based on the experience of the New Life Fire of October 14, 1985, which destroyed everything at Meher Mount.
MEHER MOUNT WAS ORIGINALLY A WORKING FARM
In 1946, when the New Life Foundation - headed by Jean Adriel and Alexander Markey - purchased the property in Ojai now known as Meher Mount, it was a working farm.
The buildings included a main house in which Agnes Baron lived; a guesthouse where Avatar Meher Baba greeted guests in 1956; a number of agricultural sheds and out buildings; and a farmhouse and workshop.
THE NEED FOR A "FIREPROOF" GARAGE IS BASED ON HISTORY
When the $40,000 donation was made, the donor specified that $20,000 be used to purchase a new tractor and $20,000 be used to build a "fireproof" garage/workshop to house the tractor.
The reason for the "fireproof" request was because on October 14, 1985, a fire had swept through the Upper Ojai Valley destroying all the buildings, equipment, and vehicles at Meher Mount.
The date of this fire - October 14 - coincided with the start date of Avatar Meher Baba’s New Life in India on October 16, 1949. Hence, it became known as the “New Life Fire.”
The area is always highly susceptible to fire. One of the major tasks at Meher Mount is weed abatement to clear away flammable brush around buildings - a task made easier with the tractor and its implements.