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Posts Tagged ‘Carlton complex fire’

A Pateros homeowner sent me this video, which illustrates just how devastating the Carlton Complex Fires of last summer were. People in that area are still struggling with homelessness and to meet their everyday needs. The effort to assist survivors is ongoing– please visit the Carlton Complex Recovery site to learn more.

Note the fire right next to the road… the flashlight seen on the hill near the burning houses… the moment when the power goes out… the call to evacuate over the loudspeakers, and how this region looked like utter darkness ablaze during the daytime.

Also see Pateros Needs Your Help! and Pateros in Flames. Remember, most of the survivors are not receiving government assistance. They are dependent upon the goodness of others and their own efforts.

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If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. –William Penn

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©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Central WA Fires 7-14 2

Update, 12/1/14: A new website to support fire victims is up and running, Carlton Complex Recovery!

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In July of this year the largest wildfire in state history swept through Okanogan County in north central Washington. Four or five different fires, collectively known as the Carlton Complex Fire, ravaged multiple towns and destroyed 325 to 350 houses, two-thirds of which were primary residences.

You might remember my Pateros in Flames post that listed ways to help survivors of this disaster. I was sickened to learn that now, close to Thanksgiving when Okanogan County is experiencing freezing temperatures, many people are still without the housing, clothing, food, goods, and assistance they need. This crisis is far from over.

Some people assume that our government, at some level, will take care of the survivors. Wrong. FEMA has denied individual aid to fire survivors repeatedly. Those who’ve visited the area to help have called this the most underfunded disaster they’ve ever seen. So in a nutshell, in the words of community organizer Deb Stennes, this region’s recovery is dependent upon the generosity of others. 

Sixty percent of the tenants or owners affected by these fires are underinsured or uninsured. Many people lost rental homes that were sources of income for them and can’t afford to rebuild. Some residents of Pateros and other towns have relocated, some are living with family, and some are commuting ridiculously long distances from temporary residences. There are numerous people still in the area who are enduring substandard accommodations and conditions to survive.

There are those in the Pateros area (and elsewhere) who don’t have electricity or plumbing. They are using generators, and therefore expensive fuel, to survive. Some travel trailers were donated for people to live in, but because of the modifications the people living in them have had to make to stay warm, they are not mobile.

In some of these temporary homes they have to use 5-gallon buckets for toilets. There are local residents without running water and even one woman who’s living in a yurt. Even though she’s hung comforters around to insulate it and has a propane heater, it generally doesn’t get above 50 degrees inside. She cuddles with her little dog to try and heat up.

Pateros DS 1

There have been a number of other issues caused by the fires as well. There was a significant environmental impact– debris was choking the local waterways and beginning to contaminate the area. In September, KING 5 reported on the cleanup still going on. Pets and livestock were lost, injured, killed, or displaced, and the abundant local wildlife population was affected. Businesses were destroyed or suffer and popular tourism areas are either out of business or have to stage a comeback. State parks were damaged also.

Many residents and some churches and organizations from Chelan and Okanogan Counties have been working tirelessly since July to meet the needs of survivors and help them move on. Because this effort is private– not taxpayer-funded or headed by a big-name organization like the Red Cross– they could use reinforcements. You know those post-apocalyptic movies and TV shows in which people are struggling to live after nuclear war? That’s a lot like what these folks are dealing with.

When donating to a disaster fund, or any charity, we need to be careful about who we’re giving to in order to ensure they’re legitimate and the money will be spent on the cause itself. These first two groups have been personally recommended to me as legitimate 501c3s to donate to:

Grace City Church, P.O. Box 4657, Wenatchee, WA  98801

PBLTRO (Pateros Brewster Long Term Organization), P.O. Box 658, Pateros, WA  98846

The Community Foundation of North Central Washington has a fire relief fund, but your donations can’t be allocated to specific areas. It is a well-known organization based in Wenatchee.

Some private citizens have adopted particular families to help– imagine how many families could be helped if a large company decided to adopt. New or like new winter clothing is needed. New or like new household items are needed. Housing is still needed. Skilled people who can help rebuild is still needed. Please note that some well-meaning people have donated clothing or items that are not in good shape and therefore some donations had to be put into the garbage.

There is a very powerful blog post with professional photos at Lifesong Photography’s website, A Waterfall of Flames: The Carlton Complex Fire 2014. It provides windows into the tragic and charred world of our neighbors to the east, putting faces on those we might have otherwise heard about briefly on the news. Please check it out. The Seattle Met magazine will soon be featuring a piece on the fires as well.

If you or your organization want more information about specifically what needs to be done for fire survivors, please contact Deb Stennes at stennesdeb(at)yahoo.com. Deb, her husband Keith, and their sons are the fourth generation of their family running Stennes Orchards and the Cascade Crest Organics brand. They haven’t stopped reaching out to people in Pateros and elsewhere since this began and are well-connected in the community.

Let’s see what we can do to obtain suitable winter lodging, clothing, and other needed goods for the people and pets displaced by this catastrophe. This would make a great holiday project for schools and corporations. If everyone gave just a little, we would achieve more than enough.

Pateros DS 2

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You could see the puzzled old rich man—whom everybody had envied for his wealth—sitting up in bed at midnight with his gray hair tousled and his silken nightcap askew, blinking into the disappointed eyes of the Angel who was shaking his head and saying, “Corn? No; you can’t bring the corn along—or the barns. You may bring only whatever you have given away.”
-Lloyd C. Douglas, The Big Fisherman

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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From VisitOkanogan.com

From VisitOkanogan.com

The City of Pateros, Washington is burning. This picturesque town of about 650 people in north central Washington where the Methow and Columbia Rivers meet is beloved by many. We go there to relax, to enjoy the outdoors, and to enjoy the scenery. An out of control wildfire, one of scores burning in the state right now, has consumed 100 homes in the county at last report. I just received word that a friend’s home– astonishingly– is still standing. That does not mean it is unscathed.

KXLY: Homes, businesses lost in raging Central Washington firestorm

Chaos and devastation cover Washington’s Methow Valley, as a wildfire jumped a ridge and flames burned into the town of Pateros. Homes and businesses are burning to the ground in the firestorm that is burning into the town of Brewster as well.

The fire, stemming from the Carlton Canyon fire, has been burning for several days. Around 6 p.m. Thursday night wind fanned the flames down a hillside and the flames came racing towards Pateros.

At 8 p.m. Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers ordered the evacuation of Pateros. As they left town, witnesses reported seeing businesses and homes on fire. The hospital in Brewster was evacuated as was the evacuation center set up by the Red Cross.

I’ve been receiving email reports about this for a few days and am compelled to share some of that information about the fire as an appeal for help. First, a fire close to Wenatchee. I don’t know who to give credit to; their name is not on the OneDrive page I retrieved these from. This looks like hell. Or a furious volcano.

Central WA Fires 7-14 2

Central WA Fires 7-14 1

Here is one account from Thursday, July 17th:

…the last I heard the fire was headed to the shed in the back of our house in Pateros. The neighbor’s house across the street is now gone. When she called me the fire was in the brush in the back, green lawns and sprinklers didn’t seem to matter, in minutes it was gone. Fire was headed to the church also near our house. I have no idea what is burning and what will be left.  I talked to the Red Cross in Chelan, they said it was very bad.  I tried to get my renters back on the phone, no answer. (Renter) was sitting in her car watching the house and crying. I told her kids to tell her to leave, never mind the house. Safety and their lives is what matters. They were all crying, scared and shocked, after all it is their home and their belongings. It was pitch black at 4:30, power lines went out, so much confusion. Cattlemen trying to save their herds. My daughter’s grandmother in a nursing home has to be moved, the hospital in Brewster is moving patients to Omak. The whole hillside above the town was on fire when I was first called. The water tower’s just above the school. It’s not just one town, it is Twisp, Carlton, Brewster, I heard another on near Leavenworth  and around Lake Wenatchee. So many fires, so dry, like matches and gasoline, then the wind does its thing. One fire jumped the Columbia River, that is a big jump, they got that one under control…   

This is a photo of Pateros burning. It was sent with the caveat, “This picture was not taken at night, that’s how dark it was getting… I hope people here will step up like they did at Oso.”

Central WA Fires 7-14 3

One local said:

I received a call  from (family member), who actually saw the fire jump onto the hill in back of Pateros and he said within minutes it had spread horizontally, taking everything in its path. He said it was so painful, watching Pateros burn.  He had been at Ft. Okanogan earlier in the day and was returning home to Wenatchee.  This Carlton Complex Wildfire is a monster and all the surrounding counties are in flames.

I am sick at heart for all of you.  I am praying very hard and asking others to do so, too.

Tanya Wards Jones took this picture of vehicles leaving town. This looks like a scene out of a zombie apocalypse movie.

Central WA Fires 7-14 4

Okanogan County is in a state of emergency. The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle has continuing local coverage and right now is featuring these headlines:

Emergency declared by county commissioners

Wildfire destroys buildings in Pateros

Roads closed, structures destroyed in Methow wildfires

Methow Valley shelter moves from Twisp to Winthrop

Tribe mops up five fires at Owhi Lake

Malott area evacuation ordered; 100 or more homes lost county-wide

Utility declares emergency; repairs could take weeks

Their front page features this dramatic photo, timely as just before I went to their site I was thinking of these timeless lyrics to a favorite hymn. They’re a reminder that there is only one sure thing in this world and it’s Him.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

From the Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

From the Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

KOMO is reporting that Malott has been evacuated as well as part of Brewster. Also:

The fire consumed utility poles from two major power lines, knocking out power to Pateros as well as the towns of Winthrop and Twisp to the north.

Gov. Jay Inslee said about 50 fires were burning in Washington, which has been wracked by hot, dry weather, and gusting winds and lightning. Some 2,000 firefighters were working in the eastern part of the state, with about a dozen helicopters from the Department of Natural Resources and the National Guard, along with a Washington State Patrol spotter plane.

Karina Shagren, spokeswoman for the state’s Military Department, said 100 National Guard troops were on standby, and up to 1,000 more in Yakima could receive additional fire training. Active duty military could be called in as well, Inslee said.

“This, unfortunately, is not going to be a one-day or one-week event,” he said.

The Seattle Times has a map of the fire, information on highway closures, and other useful information.

KCPQ has video of the aftermath in Pateros.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources site has great information including a burn risk map, Twitter feed, and links to updates on the fires.

Here’s how to help. Please remember that both people and animals need assistance at times like this.

The Ron & Don show has posted this information:

All of the Les Schwab Tire Centers locations in Western Washington, along with shops in Wenatchee, East Wenatchee and all locations up to Oroville are acting as drop-off points for item donations. All items are welcome. The locations will collect items and then drop them off where they are needed, including Chelan, Pateros and Brewster.

The Wenatchee World has compiled a list of other ways you can help our neighbors in need, some of whom have lost everything:

Chelan PUD offices are now accepting donations of money or gift cards to the Red Cross at their Wenatchee, Leavenworth and Chelan locations. They will also collect donations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at Chelan Riverwalk Park. For more information, call 663-8121 or (888) 663-8121. • Wenatchee: 327 N. Wenatchee Ave., • Chelan: 1034 E. Woodin Ave. • Leavenworth: 222 Chumstick Hwy.

North Cascades Bank has set up a fire relief fund at all of its branches. Anyone can donate. For more information, call your local branch — Wenatchee, 888-6000.

A fire relief fund has been set up by the Community Foundation of NCW. The fund, announced by Beth Stipe this morning, will partner with the Red Cross to provide short- and long-term aid to fire victims. To donate, visit cfncw.org or send checks to 9 S. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, WA 98801. For more information, call 663-7716.

Dicks Towing in Wenatchee will be accepting donations and delivering them to Chelan. There is no limit to donations. Necessary items include food, clothing, personal hygiene items, toys, giftcards and baby necessities. Dick’s will also be delivering supplies to firefighters, including snacks, water and personal hygiene items. Items should be dropped off at 110 Thurston St. near the Link Transit Station. Drop-off hours are Mon.-Fri., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To drop off at different hours or for more information call 663-1623.

Lakeland Veterinary Clinic in Manson is not accepting animals for boarding, but is taking dog and cat food donations for the Chelan shelter. You can reach them at 687-1021. 

Q13 says the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society is also helping the animal survivors. Besides their wonderful website, they also have a Facebook page. They’ve also reported that there is a site dedicated to helping people find pets lost during the fires. It is managed by the National Disaster Animal Response and Recovery Teams.

There are many more ways to help and volunteer at the Wenatchee World’s How to Assist Fire Victims site. Please keep checking their page for updates. And please check before you donate goods– some sites are not collecting them or they might not be needed. Cash donations to the Red Cross are always helpful.

Update 7/23/14: A coworker whose hometown is Pateros says donations can also be made at the Give Naked site.

I have feelers out to the faith community in this county to find out how the churches are helping and what they need. Please keep the people and creatures in this area, great and small, in your prayers tonight. Also pray for the safety of those fighting the fires. I’ve heard some eerie terminology describing these infernos like “out of control,” “a funnel of fire,” and “cauldron of hell.” This is a very dangerous situation and once the flames are out there is a long road to recovery ahead.

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What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other? -George Eliot

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

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