Community steps up for fire victims

There was a need, and the community answered. That is basically what happened when Kettle Falls Masonic Lodge #130 spread the word that it was collecting do¬nations for victims of the Carlton Complex fire, especially the Twisp and Methow Valley area residents. According to Mason Junior Warden Gordon Olsen, Masonic District Deputy Nick Pemberton, who lives in the Twisp area, contacted him recently asking for help for the community. Pemberton said donations have been streaming into Pateros, a Central Washington town that lost 30 homes to the fire, but that basic resources for fire victims in the Twisp and Methow Valley were lacking. “Just stuff that we take for granted, like a bed to sleep on, clothes, blankets, even toilet paper, are just some of the things they need,” said Olsen. The massive Carlton Complex fire has destroyed an estimated 300 homes in north Central Washington, according to the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office. Lightning started the fire on July 14. Nearly 3,000 people are fighting the fire from the ground and the air. Several days of rain have helped crews start to get the upper hand on the massive blaze, said to be the worst wildfire in the history of Washington State. The 250,514-acre fire was 60 percent contained on Sunday. The Kettle Falls Post Office and Colville NAPA Auto Parts volunteered to assist the Kettle Falls Masonic Lodge by acting as designated drop-off spots for donations. Clayton Birch Land Services lent Olsen the trailer to transport goods to Methow Valley Masonic Lodge #240 in Twisp, where they will be distributed. As of last Friday, Olsen estimated that they had received over 4,000 pounds of goods. “It started with my neighborhood and grew from there,” said Olsen of people’s generosity. “We’re just trying to do what we can for people in need.” The plan was for Olsen and a few other volunteers to deliver the goods Tuesday. “There has been a lot of response from local businesses, churches and individuals doing their part,” said Kettle Falls Masonic Lodge Worshipful Master Jim King.