'Rising from the Ashes' marks recovery efforts




— “Rising from the Ashes,” a recovery reunion and celebration, is planned July 18-22 in areas affected by the 2014 Carlton Complex fire and 2015 Okanogan Complex and other fires.

The event will include food, music, tours and other activities to celebrate rebuilding that has taken place so far.

The 2014 Carlton Complex fire burned across 256,108 acres and destroyed 237 homes, 53 cabins and other outbuildings for a loss of $27.86 million in assessed valuation. An estimated 700-1,000 cattle died, and the blaze contributed to two deaths from medical conditions during the fire fight.

In 2015, fires burned across 522,920 acres of land in Okanogan County and destroyed 96 homes, 95 cabins, 20 detached garages/shops and 92 other outbuildings for a loss of $11.1 million in assessed value of structures. Three firefighters died. An estimated 3,850 cattle worth $7.7 million also perished.

During both years, the fires also destroyed fences, electrical and fiber optics infrastructure, and farm machinery, and blackened grazing land, crops and forested areas. In subsequent years, fire areas also suffered flooding and slides because of the soil instability.

The Okanogan County Long-term Recovery Group had its roots in the weeks after the Carlton fire. It has since expanded its scope, with the largely volunteer organization helping communities in other eastern Washington areas hit by wildfires.

“For the past three and a half years, thousands of incredible people have devoted their time, energy and money into helping survivors recover from the 2014 and 2015 wildfires,” said the group. “It has truly been a group effort from the state. As we near the end of our recovery efforts in 2018, we would like to invite everyone back to the area and celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far.”

Besides coordinating donations that flooded into the area after the fires, the group also helped survivors cope with loss, get back on their feet and rebuild. The organization built 27 homes and coordinated rebuild efforts by other relief organizations.

People wanting to participate in the July 18-22 events are asked to pre-register at the recovery group’s website, www.okanogancountyrecovery.com.

Events include:

-Rebuild in progress tour – One of the rebuilt homes will be featured.

-“Smoke and Mirrors” fire maze display. The portable museum display features the 2014 and 2015 fires in Okanogan and Chelan counties. “Complete with news stories, photographs, burnt remnants, art displays, stories and more, this exhibit will give an in-depth view of the recent wildfire history in the area.”

-Raft the Methow – Michelle Carfagno, a fire survivor and veteran rafter, will lead the July 18 event. Participants are asked to meet at 10 a.m. at the Rest Awhile Fruit Stand, 53 Highway 153, Pateros.

-Chelan barbecue – The 5:30 p.m. event will be July 18 at Chelan Riverwalk Park. A fee will be charged.

-Float the Okanogan – Disaster case manager Jessica Rounds will lead the July 19 event; participants are asked to bring their own kayaks, canoes and innertubes, plus a life jacket, or contact 605-941-2229 or ocltrgvc@gmail.com.

-2015 Okanogan fires driving tour – The event begins at 10 a.m. July 20. Key places and points of interest will be highlighted.

-Tunk area rebuild home tour – Homes in the Tunk Block Fire area will be featured July 20.

-“Rising from the Ashes” dinner and concert – The July 20 event in Pateros includes a catered dinner, apple pie dessert from the Pateros Apple Pie Jamboree and music by Brittany Jean. The event starts at 5:30 p.m.

-Carlton Complex fire tour – The July 21 driving tour starts in Pateros and includes stories, points of interest and a visit to a home construction site. The event starts at noon.

-Pateros rebuild open house – A home will be featured at the noon July 21 event.

-Breakfast in Twisp – The pancake breakfast starts at 8:30 a.m. July 22 at the Twisp Valley Grange, 344 W. Second Ave. The “Smoke and Mirrors” fire display will be set up.

-Twisp rebuild open house – The event will be at 10 a.m. July 22.

-Twisp River Fire driving tour – The 10 a.m. July 22 event will take visitors through the fire zone. A fire memorial honors the three firefighters who died during the blaze.



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