An Amazing Off-Grid Fire Lookout That’s Home to a Couple in Oregon

This fantastic “treehouse without a tree” is home to Dabney Tompkins and Alan Colley. Inspired by fire lookouts the 388 square foot (36 square meters) elevated dwelling features 360 degree views of the surrounding Oregon landscape and is powered by solar panels.


Fire Outlook House - Dabney- Tompkins and Alan Colley - Oregon - Treehouse in Landscape - Humble Homes

The couple first learned of traditional fire lookouts from a book they happened upon several years ago. Their curiosity got the better of them and they decided to rent out a few of the remaining lookouts, testing the waters to see what life could be like in your own treehouse.


Fire Outlook House - Dabney- Tompkins and Alan Colley - Oregon - Framig - Humble Homes

Tompkins and Colley haven’t always lived in such small quarters – at 388 square feet the fire lookout is 3.5 times smaller than their previous home. Nor had they ever lived off-grid for an extended duration, but as they say, “living off-grid isn’t what it used to be”… thanks to modern technology.


Fire Outlook House - Dabney- Tompkins and Alan Colley - Oregon - Interior - Humble Homes

In 2010 they purchased 160 acres in Oregon’s Summit Prairie and, with the help of an architect, engineer and builder, they designed their lookout tower. Originally they intended to use it as a retreat for the occasional week or two away, however three years after its construction they decided to leave their jobs and move in full time.

Fire Outlook House - Dabney- Tompkins and Alan Colley - Oregon - Exterior Deck - Humble Homes

The property is entirely off-grid but thanks to solar panels they still have running water, despite being 40 feet off of ground level. There’s also electrical outlets, internet access, and no less than four toiletry options, including a composting toilet can be found in a nearby outhouse.

A shower has been incorporated into the large wrap-around deck, and a wood-burning tub that’s fed with by a natural spring can be used for hot baths. The lookout features two levels with the first acting as the main living area, with a kitchen, dining and sitting room. A second much smaller room found above the living area serves as a cozy but comfortable bedroom.

Via Zillow
Photos: Tom Hanny

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

  1. I like it but I would definitely be concerned about forest fires. My former landlord is a firewoman and had to go in state and out of state and out of the country fighting fires. I definitely it but I would be interested in how would they get out of there if they needed to. Pass on to the gentlemen if they ever have to escape to have a go away bag so that they only have to grab and go. That might save some time and trouble if they ever have to escape the area in case of a natural disaster.

  2. Amazing, yes; humble, no. If I owned the neighboring quarter section I’m not sure I’d want this construction in my line of sight. It doesn’t exactly blend in with the beautiful landscape, does it? That it’s inspired by the forest lookout towers of an earlier era does not diminish the fact that to some it constitutes no less than an eyesore, though an admittedly well-built and expensive one.
    I’m prepared to accept that my opinion may not be that of the majority.