Porch fire threatened historic Point Reyes Station building

David Briggs
Last Friday afternoon, flames erupted in Point Reyes Station at the historic Foresters Hall, which suffered exterior damage. The tenants of the adjacent apartment, who were not home at the time of the blaze, were displaced due to water damage.  

A structure fire broke out for unknown reasons midday last Friday at the Foresters Hall, a century-old, multi-use building on Mesa Road in Point Reyes Station. The tenants safely evacuated the building and Marin County Fire, which responded to the scene within minutes, contained the flames to the exterior where a porch, staircase and siding suffered damage. “This is the first larger-scale fire in West Marin this year,” said Bret McTigue, a spokesman and battalion chief who was one of the first to arrive. “We knocked [the flames] down within two minutes of arriving at the scene, and it took about 20 minutes before we stopped the watch on fire and water damage.” Two engines from Point Reyes responded immediately, one manned by recruits in training who happened to be in the area. The fire’s cause is under investigation; it is thought to have started on the back porch outside one of the building’s four apartments, according to Lorraine Fisher-Smith, who offers massage in one of the building’s two commercial spaces. Ms. Fisher-Smith said the tenants of the apartment nearest the porch, which suffered extensive water damage, weren’t home at the time. While repairs are made, the tenants have moved to a vacant short-term rental, she said. “In that way, it’s a good time for this kind of thing: somewhere else local was available for now,” she added. Mr. McTigue said the threat of Covid-19 does not change firefighting operations on the ground much, but the agency is taking all types of precautions—including not allowing the public into firehouses, equipping responders to medical calls with full-body protective gear and staffing longer shifts with the same team members. The Foresters Hall, so named for the fraternal society the Foresters of America, was built in the early 1900s and established as a community space. It is now owned by Petaluma residents Kathryn de Laszlo and Stephen Marshall.