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Images of burned areas offer perspectives of damage

By Mary Stamp

disautel fire
What trees will be harvested?

Some areas burned out (below), others were scorched (top).

What is the role of fires in the natural cycle?
disautel burn

Returning from visiting family and seeing how the summer Okanogan Complex Tunk Mountain fire came to the hillside above their home but left vast stretches unburned, I returned to Spokane via the dirt road over Tunk Mountain.

That drive left me with questions and insights about what happened and what will happen as the shift to long-term recovery begins through Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOADs). 

Churches and others become involved through VOADs in assessing needs and assisting with rebuilding.

The Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery efforts are still underway from 2014 fires, said Vera Zachow, as efforts begin to help with rebuilding and assistance through the Okanogan County Long-Term Recovery Group, an umbrella that includes the Omak-Okanogan Long Term Recovery Organization.

Similar groups are helping communities with temporary housing, clothing, fencing, insurance, hay, sheds and rebuilding in Twisp-Winthrop, Tonasket-Oroville, Pateros-Brewster and the Colville Indian Reservation, as well as in Chelan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.

riverside home
What help will there be for rebuilding?

Some areas burned out (below), others were scorched (top).

How can people join in to help meet needs?
shed being built

The Omak-Okanogan group can be reached at

FEMA rejected individual assistance for the second year, so voluntary recovery efforts will be important.

While firefighters saved many structures, many people lost vehicles, farm machinery, crops, timber and livestock.

Governor Jay Inslee’s request for assistance said 522,920 acres were burned in the Okanogan Complex, Tunk Block and North Star fires (Okanogan Complex), compared with 256,108 acres in the Carlton Complex.  People are still searching for housing from that fire, which destroyed 237 homes and 53 outbuildings.

Foursquare and other churches built sheds for several families to store donated goods while they rebuild.

Vera, who lived in Pateros six years before the 2014  fire, visited a neighbor last year.  “Everywhere I looked was black, so I took her a pot of flowers.”  This year, she and others are distributing flowers.

How soon will slopes regrow to prevent erosion?
Some areas became moonscapes (top). Others were untouched (below).
Why were some areas passed over by fire?
Why were some homes saved and others lost?

We invite UCC churches to send updates on ways they are assisting their neighbors. 

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Copyright © November-December 2015 Pacific Northwest Conference UCC News


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