Columbia, Ca — The historic Wilson-McConnell House in Columbia State Park was nearly lost to fire early Friday morning, but it was saved thanks to quick work by firefighters and park staff.
?One of our maintenance guys was turning on the heating system because we are trying to get prepped for the winter,? says Park Ranger Jennifer MacNaughton. ?He was trying to turn on an old propane tank, and there was a little bit of propane left in the piping. There was enough pressure that it pushed the propane under the house, and the pilot light lit it.?
The worker noticed smoke and flames coming from a vent, so along with another nearby employee who ran over, the two grabbed a water hose to help knock down the blaze until firefighters arrived on scene.
MacNaughton says that park officials were told by firefighters that if it were not for the quick action of the two workers, the entire house would have been up in flames within 3-5 minutes.
The fire damaged one of the side walls and some of the flooring, but otherwise the effects were minimal. A dollar estimate has not been compiled.
?When they opened up the wall, we found a board that said ?Mrs. R. Wilson´ on it, who was the woman who built the home in the 1860´s? adds MacNaughton. ?This just gives us proof that she really built the house. There was a blessing in there, something cool came out of something bad.?
James Wilson started to build the home in the late 1800´s, but passed away before it was completed. His wife Rose finished the construction, and lived at the residence with family for many years.
The home was made famous after being featured in the 1952 Gary Cooper film ´High Noon.´
Written by BJ Hansen