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Blue River’s unofficial ‘mayor’: Town ‘100% gone’ due to Holiday Farm Fire

'It's nothing but burnt sticks right now,' Melanie Stanley says -- but 'we are McKenzie Strong'

(Update: Adding video, comments from Blue River resident)

BLUE RIVER, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As the Holiday Farm Fire rages on, burning 145,000 acres as of Thursday, people who had to evacuate the McKenzie River Valley are left wondering if they will have homes to return to. And the answer will be tragic for far too many.

Fire crews say resources are scarce as the fire continues to burn through several communities in Lane County.

NewsChannel 21 spoke Thursday with Melanie Stanley, affectionately known as the “unofficial mayor” of Blue River. She said children also call her “Aunt Melanie.”  

Stanley said she first evacuated to the parking lot of Thurston High School in Springfield, along with hundreds of others escaping the McKenzie River Valley. 

“The town of Blue River is 100% gone,” Stanley said. “Our area was beautiful, and it’s nothing but burnt sticks right now.”

As of Thursday, Stanley is staying in a hotel in Eugene, awaiting word from fire officials as to when it's safe to return -- and if there's a home for her to return to.

“Whenever everybody is like, ‘We just want to get home to try to figure out what to do next’ -- there’s no ‘What next?’ right now,” Stanley said.

According to Stanley, Blue River is made up of about 150 people, with about 2,500 total residents between Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.

“It burned straight through Blue River,” Stanley said. “Pretty much from Blue River Park to the highway, there’s nothing left. There’s zero.”

She described it as apocalyptic, saying an unknown number of homes have burned to the ground, and only poles stand in places where signs used to be.

She said while fire crews have strongly advised people to evacuate, some residents chose to stay behind, to guard their property from possible looters.

“I want everybody who wants to come back to the McKenzie to be able to come back to the McKenzie,” Stanley said. “We are 'McKenzie Strong.'”

Evacuations remain in place for the communities of Vida, Blue River, Mohawk, McKenzie Bridge, Leaburg and Walterville. 

For the most updated information on the Holiday Farm Fire, visit the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center’s website or the fire's InciWeb page.

Author Profile Photo

Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.



  1. Hey Barney, how about some news about the affected towns in the Canyon and the McKenzie. I know you can’t get there and wouldn’t spend the money to send people there if you could. BUT, YOU DO HAVE TELEPHONES DON’T YOU. Maybe a couple contacts after all these years.

    1. Hey Tripod…you do realize that resources are stretched thin. And that everyone is going the best job they can.

      This is not about you. And if you think you can do better than Barney why not give it a whirl.

      Or stifle it.

      1. if you haven’t figured it out z21 is a training station always has been.we use to get 2 portland stations a salem and eugene one on bend cable now we just have these fools.

    2. I can respond to this one easy enough, I have a lot of family from Little Sweden to the Lyons area. The three words I have heard “It’s mostly gone.” Hope that fills your need to know, morbid as it is.

  2. National media covered protests in one square block of Portland for months, but now that Oregon is literally on fire there’s barely a mention by most media.

  3. Oregon’s wildfires are now closing in on one million acres and hundreds of homes lost, and still no word from the feds about emergency funding and other help. I hate to pull politics into a truly tragic disaster like this, but isn’t this what FEMA is set up for? Seems like a reality check by them is in order.

    1. You sound like Governor Kaotic Kate- She broke it- now she wants the guy she publicly criticizes day in and day out to come in and cover her hind end- as her bundies air in the wind for everyone to see !

      You are a disgusting bag of scum- with your… “hey- where are the feds ? We’re in deep doo-doo here” !

      Ya shoulda thought about that when you personally decided not to sign the petition to recall this complete failure of a Governor- who has been at the helm of every major disaster this state has seen- ever !

      Oh- but now that the fires look scary- yer all worried ! Screw you ! What about the hundreds of thousands of businesses that closed because of Girly Brown’s covid hysterics ? The number of structures burnt to the ground- destroyed and looted during the Portland riots ?

      Lemme guess- you now know someone who is suffering from her incompetence- and you want D-Trump to send in the Rescue Rangers ! I got a serious four letter F word for you- but the B is having a bad day- so I’ll drop this on you instead- “Fool” !

      1. I don’t agree with.. or even like what you said, but I liked the way you said it. Too bad you’re not as intelligent as you’re page presence paints you to be. Seems like a real waste of potential genius if you ask me. Haha, big guy upstairs can’t get em right every time I guess lol seriously though, you wrote that well & I thought it should be noted.

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