Fire History of a Historic Gold Mining Town Columbia, California
The historic gold mining town of Columbia, CA is home of the largest collection of gold rush era brick buildings, in California. The town's fire history shaped the unique architectural design of this historically significant collection of buildings. Columbia started as a mining camp built of wood and canvas. These flammable structures did not survive the fire of 1854. The Columbia Volunteer Fire Department Engine Company No. 1 was formed by miners, in the 1850s. In the early 1850s fire was fought using primitive techniques; such as: bucket brigades, human chains, and hook and ladder methods. To prevent fire from spreading, brick buildings with iron doors were constructed, in the mid 1850s . In 1857, another devastating fire stuck the town of Columbia, which destroyed 30% of the town. By the late 1850s, Columbia purchased two hand pumpers to combat town fires. Tuolumne Engine Company Number 1 was the first engine company in the county, with John Haskell, as Foreman. Joining this company was in high demand and a waiting list was created to manage new members. Columbia Engine Company Number 2 formed, due to the notion that foreigners were being excluded. Inevitably the companies became rivals.
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