Mill Fire one year commemoration event

MEDFORD, Ore. – Last week marked the one year since the deadly Mill Fire, in Weed, California.

Today, the affected communities held a memorial service, in memory of what was lost.

Here at Charlie Byrd Park, in Weed Saturday, people have gathered around to eat, have a raffle and spend time with each other, to commemorate the tragic fire that took so much from the community.

Last year, the Mill Fire burned at almost 4,000 acres.

It destroyed 118 structures and damaged 26 more.

But Denise Hopkins says it’s the things you can’t replace that hurt the most.

She said, “it was very devastating, to lose everything. It’s not so much the material things because you can go back and buy that stuff, but to lose all my kids, and grandkids, and family pictures.”

Among the homes lost, the fire also claimed two lives.

Robert Thomas lost his neighbor and friend to the fire as well as his own home.

¬†Thomas said, “I was the last one she talked to, I heard her take her last three gasps of breath. Her name was Gloria, who died in the fire. I couldn’t get up the street to give her a ride or assist in any other way.”

But one thing was clear at the memorial event, that the community aims to rebuild and move forward.

The 96094 Collaborative long term recovery group has been helping rebuild homes by working hands- on with those affected, by finding contractors, navigating permits and more.

With their help, Thomas told us in a short few weeks, his new home will be ready.

He said, “we’re waiting on the infrastructure to be put in and then the flooring and all the cabinets should be done. So, we’re looking forward to just moving in and carrying on as once was.”

The event featured speakers from different organizations that aim to provide resources to the people of Weed.

One of them was psychiatrist Dr. Annelle Primm, with the non-profit All Healer’s Mental Health Alliance.

She specializes in helping communities after disasters and says the event aimed to help instill hope back into the community.

She said, “I think today’s commemorative event was so important to mark what happened a year ago and to bring people together as a part of it and to really chart the course forward of new beginnings, starting new, a renewal.”

The houses will continue to be built with improved infrastructure, that’s installed underground, minimizing the chances of catching on fire.

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Maximus Osburn is a reporter for NBC5 News. He studied at California State University-Northridge, graduating with a degree in Broadcasting. Maximus is an avid martial arts enthusiast and combat sports fan. He even traveled to Thailand to train with martial arts experts. Maximus loves movies, nature, and doing things outside his comfort zone, like swimming in sub-freezing lakes in the winter.
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