By Drew Marine
OREGON (KPTV) — The Beachie Creek Fire ripped through nearly 200,000 acres of land from Detroit to Lyons and beyond two years ago this fall.
“At 1:30 in the morning I hear this thing wake me up. It’s a bullhorn and it’s saying get out now,” Diana McGuire said. “We got out with the clothes on our back, our car, and what papers I managed to get in about 20 minutes. Ran out to release my chickens and I said ‘babies, you’re on your own’.”
One of the homes flattened in the blaze was Diana and Steve McGuire’s. They didn’t get a good look at the damage until a month after the fire.
“It didn’t knock us down until we actually walked onto the property and saw it for ourselves. That was a bit much, you know?” she said. “Your life, that’s everything. This was our retirement home. I called this place my little bit of heaven. Everything I wanted, everything he wanted. We were as happy as a lark, and it’s gone. It’s all gone.”
Four months to the day after they had to evacuate from their piece of heaven, her husband Steve died from an aortic aneurysm. McGuire said the stress of it all is what caused it.
The only way she got through the next year is thanks to her kids – and the kindness of volunteers, or as she likes to call them, angels.
“We got lucky, my daughter found this motorhome that we’re living in,” McGuire said. “Got it set up here, and angels started popping up out of the woodworks. Someone to get the water, someone to get the power. It just worked. It just worked out.”
Some of those angels are members of the Oregon-Columbia Chapter of the Associated General Contractors.
Last February, AGC, with the help of local volunteers, started building sheds free of charge to help fire victims store their belongings while they started to rebuild their homes and lives.
“To get to know them and to get hear their story and maybe see a picture of the house that they had, you really get connected to these people and it makes you feel really, really good,” said Bill Smith, Vice President of Parker, Smith and Feek. “The other thing is, we still got a lot of sheds to build. We’re gonna try to get to 80 by May 26 but the reality is we’re going to need more this fall and we’re gonna need more people to help us build.” You can sign up to help build sheds.
They’ve built almost 70 sheds so far and McGuire was one of the first to get one.
“I can put things in there, I have tools and stuff now I can store without worrying about them walking away,” she said. “It was a godsend. I mean, When you’re beating your head on a wall thinking, ‘how are we gonna do this?’ That was the answer. A simple little shed, it’s amazing what they can do. I mean, it was huge.”
Fast forward to today, McGuire’s shed sits next to her new home, which is nearly finished. It has a few special touches to remember Steve.
“He had a hand in it, and I’m sure he’s looking down. I mean, especially our fireplace. We always wanted that and there it is,” she said through tears. “For example, that mantel up there, he milled.”
McGuire said volunteers are still needed in a multitude of ways in the area and people should reach out to United Way to find out how they can help.
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