Butte Fire Mission Trip Report

In late September, a team from Asbury UMC and Lynnewood UMC made the short trip to the Sierra Nevada’s to work on a house being rebuilt from the devastating Butte Fire of 2015.  Our trip was managed by Calaveras Recovers (CR) http://www.calaverasrecovers.org/, and we worked on one of two homes currently under construction.

CR’s short term goal is to assist with 14 homes, working mostly with un- or underinsured folks who could not rebuild without volunteer help.  Asbury and Lynnewood each put up $1000 which goes towards the $70-80K that CR estimates will be needed per house for materials and supplies.

The homeowners, Jacki and Ken, had lost the house they had built 30+ years ago.  Their son Chris works for Sender’s Hardware.  Allen Sender volunteers as the board chairman of CR and is a major player in making all the CR reconstruction activities happen.

As much as Jacki, Ken, and their family missed their old house, they were so very grateful for the work we accomplished in four days: interior framing, siding prep, shingling, deck framing and installation of window and door trim.

Even though most in our group have been on numerous construction trips, there are always new skills to learn!  Cynthia worked on the roof for the first time, helping with shingles.  Wendy, who has previously mainly painted, learned to wield a mean framing hammer, use the chop saw, install joist hangers, and her favorite, use the Sawzall!

One of the most meaningful moments of the trip was the first night, when a couple of local residents came to talk to our group about what it was like to fight the fire.  They described the fear of the moment and how the fire has impacted so many lives. Helped put the role we play as volunteers in context.

The last morning of the trip, we worked on a project at Camp Lodestar, framing the back side of a 12’ high sheer climbing wall.  When the cleanup crew that stayed at our lodging went looking for them around lunch time, they were easy to find by following the sound of the hammers and laughter.

Each evening we returned to Camp Lodestar, which is lodging volunteers for fire recovery.  It was a blessing to reflect on the day, share a devotional and enjoy the comradery of our team.

In God’s service, Dick Crawford, Cynthia DeLand, Steve Elliott, Roger Everett, Karen Fletcher, Doug Huey, Wendy Kenley, Ron Logan, Howard and Diana Mendenhall, and Steve Wilson. 


  1. Larry Wiley says

    Thanks for sharing your story. Well done.

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