In 1906, the Santa Ana city council claimed that a Chinatown resident contracted leprosy and in order to contain its spread the area needed to be burned down. This decision was supported by the Santa Ana community. On May 25, 1906, as the fire department and on-lookers stood by, the area was set ablaze. The residents were forewarned of the decision, evacuated, and relocated along the Santa Ana River. Though city leaders professed that the relocation strategy created better conditions, by 1912 most Chinese had left Santa Ana to reside in nearby Anaheim.
While leprosy was used as a justification for setting Santa Ana’s Chinatown on fire, many doubt the validity of that claim today