Farmers, firefighters band together to save historic barn

South Valley Fire has burned 20,000 acres and is 5% contained

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- The South Valley Fire has burned 20,000 acres as of Thursday and forced 400 people to flee. 

The human-caused blaze destroyed several buildings after it broke out Wednesday. Now, it's threatening nearly 100 homes.

It's not the first fire Wasco County has had to deal with, so once again firefighters and farmers are working together to help protect each other's properties.

After countless hours of firefighting efforts, Jeremy Gast put out the last hot spot right next to his barn just south of Dufur. 

He said he fought with fear as the fire surrounded his entire property.

"They were spraying the roof of the barn the whole time knowing that embers were landing on it and could fall through the cracks and burn down history," Gast told KOIN 6 News.

The barn was originally built by a couple of Frenchmen back in 1907.  The men used it for a horse barn when they used to farm all the wheat by draft horse. The now-fallen building on Gast's property used to house hogs.

"The history in there is amazing," Gast said. "You can see the old feed bins for the grain, where they were tied."

Living in Oregon, Gast is no stranger to fire, but the flames have never come this close.

"You often wonder, how many fires did this place make it through in over 100 years? And is this going to be the one that's the last?" Gast said.

Fortunately, Gast had a lot of backup protecting his property. Fire crews from Klamath Falls to the Oregon Coast came to help.

"It's emotional," Gast said. "It's the reality of everybody stopping what their life is just to help some guy out in the middle of nowhere."

While the fire continues to spread, all the farmers and firefighters in Wasco County have watched out for each other and will continue to do so.

"Everybody stops what they're doing, you stop harvest, you stop work, you jump in your truck and you go," Gast said. "And last night, they did it for me and my family."

Gast is extremely grateful for all the farmers and fire crews who came out to help save his historic homestead -- asking for no more than a thank you.

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