On the evening of September 7th, 2020 a wildfire ignited near the Holiday Farm RV Park, just one mile west of the Upper McKenzie Community Center. The forest was very dry, and east winds that night were gusting over 40 mph. Many residents had gone to bed for the night when the fire started. As the fire spread 13 miles in the first hour, volunteer firefighters and residents heroically ensured their neighbors were notified and evacuated. Incredibly, only one life was lost to the fire. The next day the fire burned over 25 miles west along the highway and river. Over 400 homes were burned. The McKenzie Highway became impassible for weeks. Residents east of the fire were left without electricity and communications for weeks. Due to the wind direction and the courageous action of firefighters and residents the Upper McKenzie Community Center did not burn.
In the weeks following the fire, donations of food, clothing, blankets, and other supplies poured in from people across the state and country. Local volunteers quickly converted the Community Center to accept and distribute these donated goods and named it the Rainbow Relief Center. Lane County brought in a portable generator which made the relief center possible. During the first month an average of more than 150 people a day picked up supplies there.
During the coming winter months there is a high possibility that the highway will be closed by landslides to the west, and by snow in the Cascade Mountains to the east. The ability of the Relief Center to store and distribute food and supplies during this time will be critical.
You can help keep this vital community building operating during the coming winter months and for years to come.
Please give through a Paypal button below, or send a check to UMCC, PO Box 2073. Blue River, OR, 97413. Thank You.
See photos of the fire area and Community Center below.
Background photo Credit: McKenzie River Drone Photography .