January 29, 1966 – The Maxwell-Jarvis House on Little Lake Street was heavily damaged by fire. Local builder Albert Maxwell constructed this home for his daughter Ardelle and her husband Henry Jarvis, a Mendocino merchant, shortly after their marriage in 1878. Henry and Ardelle had two daughters, Mabel and Grace, who were born and raised in this house.

William G. “Biff” and Marillyn Buckaloo purchased the home about a year before the fire, and they were planning an extensive remodel. The Beacon reported that, “flames were coming from under the eaves of the house and through a window when firemen were notified by passer-bys as well as by Susie Enochs who lives next door.”

Onlookers observe firefighters at house fire

Fire at the Maxwell-Jarvis House, 1966. Spectators watch firefighters put out a fire at the Maxwell-Jarvis House at 45160 Little Lake Street in Mendocino. The fire destroyed much of the second floor of the historic house. After the fire, the roof was raised to make room for an apartment.

The Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department dispatched all of their equipment and 24 firefighters to the scene. “The firemen arrived at 2:22 p.m. and had the fire under control by 4:00 p.m. Four of the volunteer firemen were slightly injured in the control of the fire. Tom Glynn and Jim Cruttenden were taken to a Fort Bragg hospital for treatment of injured hands, and were released. Lester Selters and Ray Merritt received minor injuries and were treated at the scene.”

The “lower story of the house was not occupied, but the upper story, where the fire originated, was the home of Tootsie Wetter, who was at home at the time the fire started. The southeast corner room and the hall, with all the furnishings were heavily damaged, with the rest of the house having damage from smoke and water. Firemen used about 3,000 gallons of water to quell the flames. A gale force wind was blowing during the fire, and debris and ashes were carried as far as the Catholic Church, more than two blocks away from the scene.” 

Early the next morning, smoldering embers under the asphalt shingles flared up, “and firemen were again called to strip the sheathing and shingles to get at the blaze. The building had been checked throughout the night, but the small sparks had not been found before the embers ignited. The flames were quickly extinguished.”

The Volunteers: History of the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department by Walt McKeown and Linda Wilson – Recounts the great fires since 1870, countless heroic rescues and the camaraderie and struggles involved in keeping an all volunteer force intact from 1887 to the present day. $15.