Recovery group dedicates first home rebuilds from 2020 wildfires

Volunteers and funders from as far away as New York and California joined a gathering of more than 40 people who participated in last Friday’s dedication of the first three homes rebuilt following the 2020 wildfires. A fourth rebuilt residence in Oroville will be dedicated next spring. Courtesy OCLTRG

PATEROS – It was both a long and long-anticipated day for Okanogan County Long Term Recovery Group (OCLTRG) volunteers and the owners of three Okanogan-area homes destroyed in the 2020 Cold Spring wildfire who were the fortunate recipients of the first rebuilt residences officially dedicated last Friday, Nov. 11.

The three dedications were preceded by a luncheon from 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Okanogan Fairgrounds Annex building on 175 Rodeo Trail Road where participants also made carpool arrangements to travel to the 12:30 p.m. dedication at the home of Alan and Donna Todd at 223-0 Cameron Lake Loop Road on the Colville Reservation.

From that site the group proceeded to the nearby home of Christy Spence-Allen at 223-A Cameron Lake Loop Road for the second dedication from 1:15-3:45 p.m.

The final home stop on the tour was at the Danny Timentwa home at 27966 Highway 97 for a dedication ceremony from 4:15-5 p.m.

Participants ended where they began at the Fairgrounds Annex for a BBQ/dinner from 5:30-7 p.m. to recap the day’s activities.

The unexpected winter storm that blew into the area on Nov. 5, dumped more than a foot of snow around the county and caused widespread power outages altered the original dedicated plans which included a meeting of the Unmet Needs Roundtable and a fourth home dedication in Oroville. Access to that residence owned by Jerry and Judy Gran at 213 Eighme Road was rendered impassable by the heavy snowfall. A ceremony at the Gran residence will be rescheduled next spring on a date yet to be determined.

The first round of 2021 rebuilds began that September with site preparations on five homes. By February 2021, OCLTRG Project Manager Barry Hansen reported that construction was actively underway on four homes. Three of those four were dedicated last week.

OCLTRG was formed in 2014 in response to the need created by the Carlton Complex wildfire, at that time the largest firestorm in Washington State history. Carlton Complex was followed the next year by the even larger Okanogan Complex fire. In the past seven years the region has sustained four federally declared wildfire disasters and lost more than a million and a half acres burned.

In the eight years since its founding OCLTRG’S multi-front strategy of victim prioritization, fundraising, agency coordination, volunteer recruitment, and efficient application of resources has served as a template for grassroots community response efforts to disasters around the nation.







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