An air tanker plane dropping fire retardant over the advancing Chelan Butte wildfire (part of the Chelan Complex fire) in Chelan, Wash. Photo courtesy of Ben Brooks/Wikipedia.

Wildfires Update (9/4/15)
By Jim Truitt


Firefighters are getting the upper hand on all the fires in North Central Washington. Some rain, cooler temperatures and low winds have helped tremendously. So, what do we know?

Early estimates indicate there have been approximately 180 homes burned across the state. It has been extremely difficult to get an accurate count due the fires, the smoke and the remoteness of the area. The State of Washington will have eight assessment teams in the field the week of Sept. 14th. It will be some time before we know how many of the homes were insured and how many will need help rebuilding.

There will be at least four Long Term Recovery Organizations (LTRO) formed to manage the recovery. The Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group (CCLTRG) will incorporate the two new LTROs formed for the Okanogan Complex fire under their umbrella. They have also offered to incorporate the Chelan Complex recovery into their group. These partnerships should speed up the recovery process since the CCLTRG has been up and running for a full year. They have worked out the kinks and know how to make things happen. The Colville Indian Tribe will form their own LTRO but will partner with the CCLTRG.

At last report, Stevens and Ferry counties are planning a Single Point Recovery structure and the Idaho VOAD is helping the communities around Kamiah, ID set up a full LTRO. FEMA is helping the state prepare the reports necessary for submittal to the President for a Disaster Declaration for Individual and Public Assistance. The President has already issued an Emergency Declaration making federal emergency assistance available.

Work on the homes being built to replace the ones burned in last year’s Carlton Complex Fire had to be suspended for a couple of weeks due to the fires. That work can now be resumed. The goal is to have all 11 homes dried-in by the end of October so interior work can continue throughout the winter.
Volunteer teams will be needed in large numbers this winter and over the next several years to complete the recovery. Once again, the United Methodist will partner with other faith-based groups to do our part. We encourage you to form volunteer teams or volunteer individually. As one of my friends said “this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint”.

Regardless of the outcome of the application for FEMA assistance, the recovery will need financial support. The CCLTRG has honed the rebuild process so the average cost to replace one of the homes is around $72,000. The maximum FEMA allocation is only $32,800. The remainder of the cost must be made up from donations and grants.

You can donate to the recovery by sending a check to:

The PNW Conference Treasurer
PO Box 13650, Des Moines, WA 98198
(Advance #352 on the memo line)

You can also donate on-line at

Please keep all the survivors and those lending assistance in your prayers.

Jim Truitt serves as the UMVIM Disaster Response Coordinator for the PNWUMC.

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