© 2023 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Fire of 1871 Destroys Yreka, Calif.

Yreka, Calif., suffered terribly in what is known as the “great fire of 1871.”  It was the same year as the disastrous Chicago fire, and for residents it became a landmark in time.

Torched on the Fourth of July, the fire was blamed on “a bunch of (fire)crackers ignited on the back porch of a Chinese washhouse on the north side of Miner Street.” The flames quickly spread to stored hay inside the old Yreka House, formerly a hotel and one of the city’s oldest buildings.
The Colton Theater, west of the washhouse, burned next. Firemen arrived too late and the fire burned on, from Miner Street to Lane Street and from Center Street to Yreka Creek.  It destroyed the old Chinatown, the J. B. Marble Works, the Odd Fellows’ Hall, the Metropolitan Hotel, an undertaker’s parlor, barns, the Catholic Parsonage and the first foundry in Yreka, which had already burned in 1864.
Everyone helped to suppress the flames by carrying water, tearing down fences and buildings, even piling wet blankets on rooftops.  It took all the water in the city’s water works to feed the fire trucks.

Sources: Jenner, Gail L., and Monica J. Hall. Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams. Mt.
Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2002. 67. Print; Wells, Harry L. History of Siskiyou County, California. Oakland: D. J. Stewart & Co., 1881. 80, 179, 193, 204. 

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.