The Aurora Fire District — like Canby and most other districts in the area — has been overwhelmed by the generosity of its community this week, who have showered them with food, snacks, water and other supplies to show their appreciation for their hard work throughout Clackamas and Marion County’s wildfire crisis.
Aurora, though, also made a pretty big donation of its own this week — offering something the average citizen was not likely to have lying around.
As devastating as the Riverside Fire in Clackamas County has been, which has burned across more than 200 square miles and threatened Molalla, Estacada and many rural communities, it has certainly been met and perhaps even surpassed by the ferocity of the Beachie Creek Fire in neighboring Marion County.
As of this weekend, the Beachie Creek Fire had burned 186,000 acres, destroyed countless houses, ravaged the remote communities of Detroit, Idanha, Gates, Lyons and others, killed at least four people and forever changed the Santiam Canyon.
One victim has been the Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District itself, a volunteer agency serving both communities and a long stretch of Highway 22, which lost both its district office and a fire engine as Beachie Creek ravaged the Santiam Canyon this week.
While dealing with their own wildfire crisis, Aurora Fire Chief Joshua Williams and the Aurora Rural Fire Protection District donated one of its engines to the Detroit district Friday, which was immediately put into service.
The engine was signed by Aurora Fire District personnel and presented to Idanha-Detroit Fire Chief Will Ewing last week. The truck came fully loaded with hoses, nozzles, medical and rescue equipment, and even food and water for firefighting crews in Detroit and Idanha.
“Our firefighters were overjoyed to receive this very gracious gift, many of us succumbing to tears of gratitude,” Idanha-Detroit said on Facebook. “Thank you, Aurora Fire District! This gift is truly a wonderful uplifting event in these very exhausting and trying times.”
The tiny community of Detroit has been utterly devastated by the destructive tentacles of the Beachie Creek Fire, Idanha-Detroit Lt. Laura Harris told residents in a Facebook update Sunday.
“We have approximately 20-25 structures still standing, and the rest are gone,” she said in the somber post.
One of the many buildings destroyed was City Hall, which was also where the main fire station was based.
“Our primary focus is protecting the structures that are still standing,” she continued. “Several of our firefighters have also lost their homes. They are working through their own losses while also fighting to protect homes still intact.”