OTIS, Ore. (KOIN) — Rain or shine, volunteers in Lincoln County have continued to work to help clear the debris left by the Echo Mountain Complex Fire this year.
Nearly 300 homes were destroyed by the blaze, which burned about 2,500 acres of land. Employees with the Environmental Protection Agency have combed through the area, looking for hazardous material and leaving signs in their wake.
Volunteers move from lot to lot to take away debris so that their neighbors can start to rebuild. For the last couple of weeks, Melynda Small has worked to clear not just her property, but her neighbor’s as well. On average, there are about ten to 20 volunteers lending a hand each day. On Saturdays, they get more than 100, and are hoping for more so they can get the job done faster.
“It’s just a process—getting rid of the ash, and rid of the metal,” said Small. “The biggest thing is the lack of people, the volunteers. I’ve been here every single day since we started. I understand it’s coming into winter—we need all the people.”
So far, they’ve completed about 12 lots, and there are still 63 more on the list.
“We are working everyday to try to fix that, so that people won’t, hopefully, spend Christmas in a hotel or camping because that’s where people are at,” said Small. “My goal is to help as many people as I possibly can. I want to make my town beautiful again.”
For now, many residents are staying in hotels or camping until they can return to their property. They are in need of volunteers. If you would like to help, donations can be made online here, and volunteer efforts are organized on Facebook.