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The Hilt Community Center Fire

Stories & Photos

(Please allow a few extra minutes for this page to load all 23 photos)


On the evening of Saturday, July 24th, the historic Hilt Community Center was struck by lightning during the storm that hit our area. Despite rapid initial attack and interagency assistance, the structure could not be saved, and burned to the ground.

Local Hilt resident Tom Shorey lived in an apartment in the upstairs of the Center. Shorey and his sons were away at the time of the fire, and no one else was inside the structure, and nearby neighbors were able to save most of his animals. However, all of his, and his sons', belongings were lost in the blaze.

Nearby neighbor Christina Lehman has set up a voluntary assistance fund for the Shoreys, called The Tom Shorey Fund, through the Bank of America, to help them through their loss. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund may do so at any Bank of America branch.

The Shoreys will also need some furniture, once they are able to relocate to a residence of their own again. Christina asks that anyone with items to donate please hold onto them for now, until the Shoreys can find another place to live. Please let Christina know what furniture you have, so she can coordinate such donations, at (503) 475-0626.

(For further information about this, see the news article, "Donations sought for Hilt fire victim" below.)



Terry and Christina Lehman's family lives within sight of the Hilt Community Center; they were at home when the July 25th lightning fire occurred.

Christina comments:

"I think all of us down here in Hilt are still in shock. It was horrible! We felt the lightning bolt hit, we knew it was near to our house, we just couldn't find anything for a few minutes. I wasn't looking at the houses , I was looking in the hills. I could not believe what I saw when I turned around and [saw] flames coming out of the side of the building. All we could think about was getting his animals out.. [although] I spent alot of time putting water on my house!"

"But it was [T]erry [Lehman] and Kirby [Rooker] who got the [Shorey's] animals out of the house. The dogs got scared and kept going back into the building... There [were] double rainbows over the building at one time. It was weird."




Following are photos taken by local resident Steve Meads, one of the proprietors of the Stateline Store in Hilt. Steve took close to 75 digital photos over the course of the fire; because of file sizes, we can present only a limited selection here.

Many thanks to Steve for his permission to publish his photos on our site. All photos on this page are Copyrighted by Steve Meads © 2004 with all rights reserved.

These are in sequence, and represent the different stages of the fire, from its visible beginnings that Saturday night, its spread and peak as it engaged and engulfed the structure, and the desolate morning after in broad daylight:


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0757


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0760


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0763


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0766


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0770


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0772


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0777


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0779


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0781


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0783


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0786


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0790


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0794


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0799


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0803


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0808


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0812


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0815


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0818


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0822


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0823


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0824


Hilt Community Center Fire - 0827




News Reports:

The Siskiyou Daily News in Yreka and the Ashland Daily Tidings in Ashland carried several reports of this fire:

Lightning takes Hilt treasure - Hilt Community Center burns to the ground

(from the Ashland Daily Tidings - Thursday, July 29th, 2004)

HILT, Calif. - "Years of memories now lay in a charred mess of metal and wood as Hilt residents, past and present, mourn the loss of the Hilt Community Center. // The center burned to the ground about 7 p.m. Saturday when it was struck by lightning in this small town about a mile from the Oregon border. // When lightning struck the building, flames quickly raced through the structure, which was fully engulfed by the time the Colestin Rural Fire Department and local residents armed with hoses arrived. // ..."

300 flee Iron Gate fire
(from the Siskiyou Daily News - Yreka, CA - Mon. July 26, 2004)
IRON GATE DAM - Back-to-back lightning storms struck northern Siskiyou County over the weekend, causing a number of wildland fires in the area... Lightning strikes hit a number of other locations throughout the Shasta Valley over the weekend including Hilt... Firefighters responded to 15 fires Saturday night and eight new fires on Sunday, all as a result of lightning."

Lightning fire destroys historic Hilt building
(from the Siskiyou Daily News - Yreka, CA - Wed. July 28th, 2004)
HILT - One of the last remaining historical structures in the town of Hilt went up in smoke Saturday when lightning struck the town's community center and within hours the building was a complete loss. Colestin Rural Fire District Fire Chief Steve Av...

Donations sought for Hilt fire victim
(from the Siskiyou Daily News - Yreka, CA - Wed. July 28th, 2004)
HILT - The neighbors of Tom Shorey of Hilt who lost everything in the fire that destroyed the Hilt Community Center on Saturday are seeking donations to help him with his loss. Neighbor Christy Lehman, 475-0626, said she opened the "Tom Shorey Fund" ...

Donations sought for Hilt fire victim (updated)
(from the Siskiyou Daily News - Yreka, CA - Thurs. July 29th, 2004)

HILT - The neighbors of Tom Shorey of Hilt who lost everything in the fire that destroyed the Hilt Community Center on Saturday are seeking donations to help him with his loss.

Hilt bids farewell to landmark
(from the Mail Tribune - Medford, OR - Monday, August 2nd, 2004)



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