Whiskeytown Cemetery reopens revealing burned graves and decorations

Whiskeytown Cemetery.jpg

A one of a kind cemetery has been added to the list of local landmarks damaged by the Carr Fire.

Just weeks ago Whiskeytown Cemetery was a special site where people paid tribute to their lost loved ones with individually decorated graves.

Now, the cemetery's burned headstones are a reminder of the devastating loss many residents are facing after the Carr Fire.

The sign that once stood at the Whiskeytown Cemetery entrance now rests, half burned, against a tree. Hundreds of grave sites were decorated with flags, statues and mementos before the fire hit. Now, many of these memorials are blackened and burned.

Fortunately, some of the oldest graves survived, including Willie Hetchell's. Hetchell lived from 1877 to 1895, making his grave an important relic from the area's rich history.

The cemetery reopened to the public on Friday, allowing people to return for the first time and assess the damage.

Carolyn Kirby says her husband's family has deep ties to the graveyard.

"My husband's sister, I believe his mother and there's other family members up there that I'm not aware of that are buried there and I know there's a bunch of us that want to go up and clean it up," Kirby said.

Similarly, Preston Sharp, a young community leader known for planting flags at veterans cemeteries and memorials, has planned a clean-up event for Sunday, August 19.

The goal: to help remove fire damage and restore the cemetery to it's former state.

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