Coos County Disasters: The Bandon Fire of 1936

In September 1936 a wildfire started in a nearby forest and raged through the waterfront town of Bandon, destroying countless businesses and houses. The fire, caused by summer drought and fueled by the abundant Gorse Weed found in many of the empty spaces between buildings in Bandon, caused so much destruction that only a handful of structures were left standing when the fire finally died down.

 

Grace Lawson with her children Dollie, Harry and Fritz search through the rubble of their home after the 1936 Bandon fire. -- Courtesy Coos History Museum & Maritime Collection / #992-8-2216

Grace Lawson with her children Dollie, Harry and Fritz search through the rubble of their home after the 1936 Bandon fire.

Courtesy Coos History Museum & Maritime Collection / #992-8-2216

Dozens of families were displaced and people sought shelter in the “city” of Red Cross tents that were set up on the waterfront. Among them were Carl and Emma, who were lucky enough to find some joy amidst the devastation. The two shared a Red Cross meal and shortly thereafter decided to share their lives.

Refugees Carl “Bub” Perry and Emma Lorenz share a Red Cross meal after the September 26, 1936 fire in Bandon. The couple were married in January 1937. -- Courtesy Bandon Historical Society Museum / #10240

Refugees Carl “Bub” Perry and Emma Lorenz share a Red Cross meal after the September 26, 1936 fire in Bandon. The couple were married in January 1937.

Courtesy Bandon Historical Society Museum / #10240

The Red Cross tent city on the waterfront after the 1936 Bandon Fire. -- Courtesy Bandon Historical Society Museum / #10263

The Red Cross tent city on the waterfront after the 1936 Bandon Fire.

Courtesy Bandon Historical Society Museum / #10263

It took the people of Bandon years to rebuild, and many still refer to that time in Bandon history with the acronyms B.F. and A.F.

Before the fire, and after the fire. 

Devastation and rebuilding after the 1936 Bandon Fire. -- Courtesy Bandon Historical Society Museum / #28850

Devastation and rebuilding after the 1936 Bandon Fire.

Courtesy Bandon Historical Society Museum / #28850

Learn more about Oregon coast history and see hundreds of beautiful, historic photos in The World’s new book, Coos County Memories: The Early Years.

Coos County Memories: The Early Years Cover
The World presents Coos County Memories: The Early Years

$44.95

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