Two years later: Rebuilding after Klamathon

MEDFORD, Ore. — Sunday marked two years since the Klamathon Fire ravaged the small community of Hornbrook in Siskiyou County, burning 38,000 acres and killing one man.

“When we drove away, right at our fence line right here, the fire was right there,” Dolores Callahan said describing the Klamathon Fire. Callahan has been a Henley resident for decades. She said she and her husband Ken have had many memories at their home but one from July 2018 will be one they’ll never forget.

“All we can do is just say thank you God and you know, thank all the people for being so kind,” Callahan said. “It’s a great community.” That community is Hornbrook and Henley, California.

Sunday marked two years since the Klamathon Fire destroyed much of the little town of around 300 people. More than 80 buildings were destroyed, the flames claiming the life of one man, 72-year-old John Karl Bermel.

People there said they left their homes not knowing if they could ever return, the Callahans are two of those people. The couple has lived in the area for decades. As they were leaving to evacuate, they saw flames closing in on their home.

They thought they lost everything until they got a call from their pastor. “He said, ‘I’m standing at the back of the church and your house is standing.’ I said, ‘no… they told us that everything in Henley burned.’ ‘Well, your house did not.'”

The Callahan’s home was spared and they said besides a few trees, there was no damage to their house. “We just were so thankful for ourselves, being able to leave, and for all the people that have helped us.”

While empty lots and the sight of burnt wood remain, residents said they’re happy to see their once lively small town come back to life over the last two years.

“You just find out that people, people are what’s really important.”

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