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U.S. Adventist church opens doors to community after wildfire

Brewster Adventist Church started clothing distribution center hours after near miss

U.S. Adventist church opens doors to community after wildfire

The Brewster Adventist church opened its doors to the community to share clothing after a near miss with the state’s largest-ever wildfire. [photo: Ryan Kilgore]

The Brewster Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Northwestern U.S. state of Washington opened its doors to serve those affected by the Carlton Complex fire only hours after the church building itself was threatened by the flames of what has become the largest wildfire in state history.

Homes around the church in the city of Brewster were evacuated Thursday evening after authorities issued a mandatory evacuation notice for the region. Flames from the wildfire were rapidly approaching the church vicinity and could be seen coming up over the hill to the south.

Members prayed and waited while the fire ravaged the area. According to Pastor Ryan Kilgore, one church family lost their home and several others lost cabins, just a small part of the more than 185 homes destroyed by the blaze so far.

As soon as the immediate danger was over and the evacuation notice was lifted, members began planning how they could help their community. Within hours they organized a clothing distribution center for those who lost everything. In addition, some members went door-to-door in areas hardest hit in Pateros to help people gain access to generators.

The fire, more than four times the size of the city of Seattle, began over a week ago on July 14, by lightning from a weather system that moved through the Methow Valley. At one point, the fire was more than 100 miles long and had grown to more than 250,000 acres in size. The number of resources on the ground now includes about 2,110 firefighters and fire personnel.

“What will remain after the news stories are over and the aid workers leave is still to be discovered,” Kilgore said. “Our church will be working over the long term to support our neighbors who have been devastated by the fire, particularly those who had no fire insurance.”