Local fire departments hope to brighten the holidays for devastated community
The volunteer firefighters of Inyo County are conducting a gift card drive for the survivors of the Mountain View Fire in Walker, which destroyed 88 homes. Together, Olancha, Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine and Bishop have raised more than $11,000 in gift.
“The outpouring of love from communities as far away as Bishop and beyond is so healing and encouraging for us,” said Debbie Bush, owner of the Walker General Store and president of the Northern Mono County Chamber of Commerce. “We couldn’t do what we are doing without their generosity. That community spirit is so special, especially amongst the communities of the Eastern Sierra. We really are all connected to each other. We have to stick together and support each other.”
Bishop fire chief Joe Dell brought the first batch of gift cards to Walker Tuesday, delivering them to the Northern Mono Chamber of Commerce for distribution to the families affected by the fire. Many of the families are still in motels in the Gardnerville area. Bush said the gift cards will meet so many immediate needs for the survivors and came just in time for Christmas. Many of the homes destroyed were uninsured.
“The Inyo County fire departments are proud to help our neighbors recover from the devastating Mountain View Fire that has changed the Antelope Valley community forever,” Chief Dell said. “We are humbled by the outpouring of support from our community to Walker and Coleville and are privileged to assist.”
As for material needs, a donation center has been set up for the fire victims. Right now, the most useful donations are household cleaning supplies, sanitation wipes, laundry soap, paper towels and toilet paper, and full-sized bottles of personal care products. Clothing is no longer needed, except for packages of new underwear, packages of new socks and jackets. Anyone who would like to donate furniture may do so by contacting Jen at (775) 450-0299.
Sparked during a horrific windstorm on Nov. 17, the Mountain View Fire spread quickly, destroying dozens of structures in the Walker and Coleville area. The Antelope Valley Fire Protection District called for mutual aid, and a task force of firefighters from Inyo County responded. In the wake of the devastation, they wanted to do something to help the hundreds of residents affected by the fire. They started the gift card drive and were completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the communities on Inyo County.
The fire departments, along with the Bishop Police Department, will continue to serve as drop-off locations for gift-card donations for Walker. For more information, call the Bishop fire station during regular business hours, (760) 873-5485.