Weed business owner opens donation center for Mill Fire survivors

WEED, Calif. – Those who were evacuated from the Mill Fire are starting to head back home.

But some tell us they never left.

That includes the owner of the “Weed Mercantile Mall,” who saw the fire develop right in front of her business.

“When we went outside there was flames probably 50 feet in the air and it was a solid inferno,” Weed Mercantile Mail owner Joyce Oliver said.

Oliver has seen it all in her decades as a weed resident.

She’s owned the Weed Mercantile Mall since 1996.

On Monday, she opened up her business for people to bring donations to those affected by the mill fire.

“We’ve been gathering donations, we put word out on Facebook and usually that’s all we have to do is let people know what we need and their usually here within 10 minutes,” she said.

They’ve received a variety of different sized clothes, canned goods, dog food and much more.

Not only is the mercantile mall a place to find donations, Oliver is opening it up to those who want to get their minds off the fire.

“We also find with the fire, not only do people need food and clothes, they need things to do,” she said. “We have knitting needles, crochet, yarn, books, puzzles, card games, things that keep you busy.”

Oliver has experienced several fires over the years, including the Boles Fire in 2014 and last year’s Lava Fire.

Friday’s fire knocked out power and closed off water wells nearby, making it difficult to run her business.

She saw first hand how the old mill building started billowing with smoke before the fire took off.

“We were told we were in an evacuation zone right then because the fire could come this way,” Oliver said. “The fire ended up not coming this way, but it took a turn toward Lincoln Heights and destroyed that community.”

Oliver plans to find the people whose homes were burned down in Lincoln Heights and help them as much as possible.

The Mill Fire destroyed over 100 structures and came close to several of her properties.

Despite having to deal with multiple fires over the years, the donation center is just one way the community has continued to help one another.

“This is a very close-knit community,” Oliver said. “Everyone looks out for everyone else. Any body that has a problem, knows somebody else that can help solve it.”

Oliver said they are still looking for more donations, bottled water is the most needed item, as they continue to run out.

On Wednesday, the Siskiyou food program from Yreka will be bringing groceries for people right outside the Mercantile Mall at 11 a.m..

NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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