As It Was: Yreka, Calif., Prepares to Fight Fires

Jun 21, 2017

The early settlers of Yreka quickly learned to fear fire and its catastrophic effects.

Their first experience was when a fire in 1852, only a year after the town’s initial founding, destroyed most of the business section of town. The Churchill and Parker store was totally destroyed and replaced by a stone structure.

Two years later, fire again burned down a large part of town.  It began so small it could have been covered by a hat.  Within half an hour it was out of control with no facilities available to fight it.  It moved quickly, catching unprepared owners by surprise.  Everyone did what they could to save their structures, but while buckets were plentiful, water was not.  The city did not have street cisterns or a water works.

The fire raged along Miner Street from its start to Oregon Street, destroying everything except for a stone and brick building.

It took only a few months for businessmen to rebuild, this time with bricks.

By the summer of 1856, the city had a Hook and Ladder Co.  The city incorporated the following year and organized a regular fire department.

Source: Schultz, Henry. "History of Yreka Volunteer Fire Department." Siskiyou Pioneer and Yearbook, vol. 1, no. No 3, 1949, pp. 7-9.