Touring Detroit: A look at the wildfire devastation

Wildfires

Roughly 50% of all homes in Detroit were destroyed

DETROIT, Ore. (KOIN) –– Patience and caution are what officials are asking of the community as they pick up the smoldering pieces of a Marion County town ravaged by wildfires.

In Detroit where about half of all homes were destroyed, the damage is stark and shocking. In some places, the fire reduced houses to piles of rubble but left those across the street untouched. Detroit City Hall, which housed an administrative office for the Idanha-Detroit Fire District, was destroyed.

The fire chief took time on Wednesday to thank the community for an outpouring of support while also asking for more help for people who have been displaced.

“I am a little nervous about the longevity of the organization without a long-term funding source,” said Chief Will Ewing. “So any donations now will alleviate that and allow us to move forward and rebuild in a positive position here in Idanha––help rebuild Detroit when we get back to that point.”

No structures were lost in nearby Idanha. Ewing said that while the U.S. Forest Service had brought in additional resources to protect Idanha “the geography of Detroit made it almost impossible to defend. Steep hills on all sides.”

They’re currently working on fire suppression, strengthening fire lines, checking on homes and working to get back on their feet. Crews say many hazards still exist, like falling rocks and trees. ODOT is working to remove thousands of hazardous trees along Highway 22.

“We are a little concerned about winter and the rain bringing the highway back down again,” said Ewing. “Trees loosening up, those little twigs holding up rocks are gone so it’s not going to take much to get them down.”

Other crews are working to restore power lines.

The Idanha-Detroit Fire District is made up of volunteer firefighters including Jillian Gempel. On September 8th, firefighters evacuated 76 citizens who hadn’t made it out before the fires became too dangerous. They brought them to the Mongold Day Use area before they were caravanned out.

“I have a lot of pride in my department and in my crew and my chiefs, they made all the right decisions and they led us to safety,” said Gempel.

Officials continue to ask for patience from the community and for people to be sure it’s safe to return home before doing so.

Donate to the Idanha-Detroit Fire District

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