Church Opens Doors to Community After Fire

by Jay Wintermeyer

The Brewster Adventist church opened its doors to the community to share clothing after a near miss with the wildfire. Photo courtesy of Ryan Kilgore.

BREWSTER, Wash., July 22, 2014 - The Brewster Seventh-day Adventist Church opened it’s doors to serve those affected by the Carlton Complex fire only hours after the church building itself was threatened by the flames of what has become the largest wildfire in Washington state history.

Homes around the church in Brewster, Wash. were evacuated Thursday evening after authorities issued a level three mandatory evacuation notice for the Hospital Hill area. Flames from the wildfire were rapidly approaching the church vicinity and could be seen coming up over the hill to the south.

Members prayed and waited while the fire ravaged the area, burning everything in its path. According to Pastor Ryan Kilgore, one church family lost their home and several others lost cabins, just a small part of the more than 185 homes destroyed by the blaze so far.

As soon as the immediate danger was over and the evacuation notice was lifted for the church and surrounding area, members began planning how they could help their community. With hours they organized a clothing distribution center for those who had lost everything. In addition, some members went door to door in areas hardest hit in Pateros helping to connect people with generators.

The fire, more than four times the size of Seattle, began over a week ago on July 14, 2014, by lightning from a weather system that moved through the Methow Valley. At one point, the fire was more than 100 miles long and had grown to 250,136 acres in size. The number of resources on the ground now includes about 2,110 firefighters and fire personnel.

Pastor Kilgore says, “It’s nearly five days now since the Carlton Complex fire descended into Pateros, Alta Lake, and Brewster. Aid has been coming in to support the hundreds of families who have lost homes and the hundreds or thousands more who are without power or water. For the most part, emergency aid is being pretty well taken care of. What will remain after the news stories are over and the aid workers leave is still to be discovered. Our church will be working over the long term to support our neighbors who have been devastated by the fire, particularly those who had no fire insurance.”

Pastor Kilgore says the best way to help at this time is to send financial donations to the Brewster Seventh-day Adventist Church, marked for Community Service, at PO Box 641, Brewster WA 98812. You may also donate to the Adventist Community Services who are also working to assist fire victims.