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2020 Slater Fire

Lives Changed Forever

$2114896

Financial Assistance

218

Households Helped

9

Homes Rebuilt

6

Years of Experience

Making a Difference for Slater Fire Survivors

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"I pretty much knew driving out of town we weren't going to come back to anything we recognized when this was over.  This was not a fire drill.  This was the real thing." - Sara Spence, Slater Fire Survivor
 

 

On September 8, 2020, a tree limb is believed to have fallen on a power line and changed the lives of the 905 residents that called Happy Camp home. The fire came to life west of town and within hours had altered the landscape of this community in the heart of the Klamath National Forest.  It was not until November 16, that officials declared the fire 100% contained.

The Slater Fire sparked a second fire.  Named the Devil Fire, these two destructive forces of nature consumed a total of 166,127 acres in Northern California and Southern Oregon, replacing what was familiar with a scene of utter destruction. When people were allowed to return home, sadly they found remnants of 440 buildings that had burned, 212 of them houses in Happy Camp and the surrounding area.  Not only did the wildfire destroy property, it also took the lives of two people.

How does a small community and its people recover from a disaster of this magnitude?  They certainly can't do it on their own.  It takes an army of caring individuals, businesses, organizations and government resources to achieve a new kind of normalcy.  It also takes coordination to make sure recovery efforts are met in a timely and efficient manner.  That is why the Slater Fire Long Term Recovery Group was established in December of 2020. 

What evolved out of a lot of hard work and determination was a collaboration of community organizations, regional foundations, survivors, community leaders, nonprofits and volunteers, all working towards the primary goal of supporting survivors on their journey to recovery.   Six committees were created to guide the recovery efforts.  These include the following:

 

  •          Steering Committee

  •          Finance/Public Relations and Communications Committee

  •          Housing/Construction Committee

  •          Unmet Needs/Case Management Committee

  •          Slater Fire Natural Resources Committee

  •          Crisis and Spiritual Care Committee

Since the Slater Fire occurred in 2020, the needs of the Disaster Survivors have gone through numerous transitions as people move forward.  In April of 2023, the Slater Fire Long Term Recovery Group identified the need for a shift in focus from emergency response to long term resilience.  This strategic approach resulted in the development of RISE Collaborative.  The programs and services that the Disaster Survivors have come to rely on will still exist through RISE.  By combining efforts into one entity, Happy Camp will build resilience and be better prepared for what the future brings.​  

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The video below captures the impact of the Slater Fire on the town of
Happy Camp and the people determined to rebuild what was lost.

Thank you to everyone who showed up to help during the Slater Fire.  Whether it was your job, or you were a volunteer, whatever you did - no matter how large or small a deed - it did not go unnoticed.  The residents of Happy Camp got through the worst of times because of a "village" of very kind and brave people.  The gratitude they feel will never fade.

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