A prime rib dinner fundraiser to update the historic Castella Firehouse was well attended Saturday evening with people who support the renovation of the building, parts of which date back to 1885.

A prime rib dinner fundraiser to update the historic Castella Firehouse was well attended Saturday evening with people who support the renovation of the building, parts of which date back to 1885.

The dinner was prepared and served entirely by volunteers – all family members of the Castella firefighters, including the firefighters’ children. Ron McCloud, owner of the historic Dunsmuir Hardware store and a longtime Dunsmuir resident and annual attendee of the event, commented on how special it is to see how the firefighters’ kids have grown over the years.

Before and during dinner, live music was provided by The Blackwell Brothers band featuring vocalist, Debbie Blackwell, with lead guitarist/vocalist Harry Blackwell, drummer Martin Boys, and Mark Carnes on electric bass.

A dessert auction immediately followed the dinner, with Ray Kellar, superintendent/principal of Dunsmuir High School, acting as auctioneer. Kellar, who has been the auctioneer for the annual event the past three years, did an excellent job of putting the “fun” into the fundraising auction while encouraging generous bids on the many delicious desserts which had been donated for the cause.

Following the dessert auction, many other items which had been donated by local merchants and private citizens were also auctioned off in hopes of reaching this year’s fundraising goal of $75,000.

In addition to the many auctioned items, supporters of the Castella Firehouse also had the opportunity to buy tickets to enter in drawings for the most valuable prizes – a classic 26 inch women’s Beach Cruiser, a 26 inch men’s Cruiser Bicycle, a Ruger American Rifle Standard, and a Smith & Wesson SD40 handgun.

The inside of the firehouse has recently undergone a major remodeling. Dunsmuir/Castella Fire Chief Dan Padilla said the remodel was designed by Fire Commissioner Martin Hines, who “has been working tirelessly for the past four months” as project superintendent. Padilla claimed Hines to be “the brains behind our remodeling operation.”

“Parts of the building date back to 1885, when it was originally built as a school,” Hines said. During the remodel, discovered evidential materials dating “newer” parts of the building to 1919. Older locals who grew up near the firehouse know it was used as a schoolhouse up until 1957. The school eventually moved into a new building across the street in 1957 – which is the current Castle Rock Elementary School campus, now more than 60 years old.

The entire interior of the old Castella Firehouse has been updated in order to be better able to meet the needs and purposes of the Castella Fire Protection District. Padilla described the intentions of the remodeling to include “a nice kitchen, a dormitory, and a training room for firefighters, (to also be used as) a community meeting room.”

Padilla said the ultimate goal is to upgrade to all new electrical and insulation, all new windows, all new siding, heating and air-conditioning and that the project is about 75 percent complete. He said that were it not for the contributions of The Berry Foundation, this would not have been possible.

A total of $160,000 in grants was received from The Berry Foundation, in the way of a $60,000 grant which was used to buy a much-needed new fire truck, and a subsequent grant of $100,000, which is what has made the current firehouse remodeling project possible.

In addition, several key items were contributed by a handful of other generous sources, including Solano’s Do It Best. Some essential second-hand appliances which were donated from various sources were all refurbished and brought up to date for installation, including a commercial freezer from the National Guard, some appliances from Dunsmuir Elementary School, a commercial cooking range from the Lions Club, and some appliances and a commercial dishwasher from Railroad Park Resort.

Part of the goal for the new remodel, Padilla said, includes plans to collaborate with the College of the Siskiyous Fire Academy, with the department providing a dormitory and training room for academy students.