Bruce and Kathleen retired to the Santiam Canyon in Oregon in the fall of 2019 after a lifetime of non-profit service. In September 2020 their retirement dream were lost in the 300,000+ acre Santiam fire.
Over the past five years, as they prepared to transition to retirement, Bruce and Kathleen have worked to update their 100 year old homestead- investing their life savings into updating their forever home and caring for the land and animals.
On September 8th, 2020 just before dawn, 78MPH winds toppled trees on the property, preventing Bruce and Kathleen from escaping the fire that swept through the canyon minutes later. As fire consumed the property Bruce and Kathleen worked to save their pets and farm animals before escaping the fire themselves- eventually finding refuge in a recently burned field. Over the next several hours they cared for each other until firefighters and paramedics could reach them and bring them to safety.
While both suffered burns during the fire, Kathleen's injuries were more severe. After being rescued, she was intubated, placed on a ventilator, and transported to the Oregon Burn Center so that burns to her airway, face, hands, back, and legs could be cared for. While she is now breathing on her own, she remains in the hospital while doctors, nurses, and other specialists monitor her airway, care for her burns, and determine whether surgery will be required to repair her hands.
Damage to Bruce and Kathleen's homestead is extensive. The fire reduced their home to ash, eliminated generations of personal effects, destroyed their tractor farm truck and other equipment, and devastated their livestock and apple orchards.
Bruce and Kathleen remain committed to rebuilding their beloved homestead, and returning to their adopted community along the Santiam River. All of the donations received through this campaign will go to support their recovery.
- Matt Dez
- Hilary Hitchcock
- Jeannine Fradelizio
- Jason Parker
Organizer and beneficiary