How Klamath River could rebuild community hall after McKinney Fire
The hamlet of Klamath River announced plans to rebuild its community hall, destroyed in the McKinney Fire.
“We are certainly planning to rebuild. We need our community hall,” said Mike Story, a resident of Klamath River and chairman of the board for the Klamath River Community Hall.
The community hall was one of the 185 structures destroyed by the McKinney Fire, which ignited July 29, 2022 and burned through more than 60,130 acres in rural Siskiyou Country along the Klamath River, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Four lives were lost, as well as at least 118 homes.
Rebuilding the hall is a central piece in the process of healing and renewal for the community of 150 residents, said Story.
“I enjoy getting together with the community members and putting a smile on their face, and helping them out as best I can,” Story said. “That community hall was our central hub for doing that. For it to be gone, is just like somebody ripping your heart out. It’s really been devastating to us. And it’s very important to get it back up, in operation.”
Many of the details around how to redevelop the hall are still to be worked out. For starts, the building — like so many others in the area — was underinsured, which means the project will have to include some form of capital campaign to raise necessary funding.
For now, organizers would like to move forward with building an outdoor pavilion that can serve as a gathering spot, much in the way the former hall functioned as the town’s nucleus. It was where you went for the monthly community-wide breakfast, and Taco Tuesdays to raise money for the local fire department. In years past, the Klamath River Days event would attract thousands for its lumberjack competitions and turkey shoots.
“We have a lot of potential resources at our disposal, other than money,” said Story, pointing out that the U.S. Forest Service has donated some 50,000 board feet of salvaged logs to the effort. “We’re planning to mill those and use them for the new structure."
The town will also recycle some resources.
“We all kind of feel pretty strongly that we want to use the wood that was salvaged from the fire to rebuild the hall. It’s making the best of a bad situation,” Story said.
Future planning and programming could include “wish list” items like a basketball court and other improvements planned for the former hall.
“It’s basically got to be taken piecemeal,” Story said.