You don’t have to be a fan of Forged in Fire to mourn the loss of the blacksmith shop at the Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana. On July 4, the shop completely burned down. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. There were no injuries and no other part of the museum was damaged, according to a Facebook post the Museum put up this weekend.
“In the early hours of Independence Day fire destroyed the blacksmith shop next to the OCHS archives at the Heritage Museum of O.C. campus,” states the Facebook post. “Much of the outer wall of our building burned away, but thanks to the O.C. Fire Authority, the fire didn’t breach the drywall. Nobody was hurt, and miraculously our historical materials are safe, although the room smells of smoke. Investigations into the cause of the fire are not complete. We’ll post updates when we know more. Thanks, as always, for your support.”
The fire basically puts the Orange County Blacksmith Guild, which has worked metal in that space since 1994, out of business. Since then, the Guild has offered a variety of blacksmithing classes to members of the public. About 18,000 students also visited the blacksmith shop every year, according to this Jan. 26, 2018 Daily Pilot story.
The Guild’s website notes only that their shop is “closed indefinitely due to fire.” As far as what the Guild will do long-term, staff member Ken Kurtz said he wasn’t sure.
“We are working to rebuild,” Kurtz said in a July 8 email. “The Heritage Museum is giving us unbelievable support in working to bring the shop back. The community as well as our statewide blacksmith organization is ready to begin fundraisers to help. It will be a tough road, but we will do everything we can to bring a blacksmith shop back better than before.”
Officials with the Heritage Museum said they had nothing new to add beyond what they already posted on Facebook. Those wishing to donate to the rebuilding effort should go to Heritagemuseumoc.org.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.