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Wildfires in the West
Wildfires have been burning in much of the West; thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate their homes in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. The National Interagency Fire Center reports that throughout the U.S. during the first half of 2012, there have been 26,059 fires which have burned more than 1.3 million acres. The 10-year average is 36,407 fires burning more than 1.9 million acres.
PDA has provided One Great Hour of Sharing funds in response to a request from the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks to assist families impacted by the High Park Fire, near Fort Collins, Colorado, that has charred more than 83,000 acres and destroyed about 250 homes. High Park is the second largest wildfire in recorded state history. The mountainous region affected by the fire is home to many families both on a year round and seasonal basis.
The area affected by this fire is served primarily by two churches within the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks: the La Porte Presbyterian Church in La Porte, Colorado, and the Buckhorn Presbyterian Church in Masonville, Colorado.
Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks, has been in contact with leaders in both churches and reports that among the nearly 250 homes destroyed in the High Park fire and the 21 lost in the Woodland Heights (Estes Park) fire, at least four belonged to members of Presbyterian churches. Saperstein reports that there is far greater loss within the communities served by these churches. Reverend Ernie Freund of Buckhorn Presbyterian Church shared an update of the fire’s impact on their church.
Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center in Allenspark, Colorado, has been hosting the campers and staff of Sky Ridge Lutheran Camp (ELCA), which had to evacuate its location. While the Lutheran camp appears to have escaped damage, the only route to the camp is via the fire response road that is closed to non-emergency traffic, so it is likely the impromptu partnership between the two camps will continue for several weeks.
Currently, the Larimer County Sheriff is coordinating emergency housing for the displaced families. Because it is unknown how many people may have been living in the area at the time of the fire, they are struggling to make sure all persons are accounted for.
How you can help
Act: Sign up to receive PDA RIN (Rapid Information Network) emails to be aware of current responses and urgent needs you can share with your congregation.
Pray: Please pray for the people and communities affected by the wildfires, for those serving as first responder emergency personnel, and for those who offer assistance – that they will be strengthened and reminded of the faithful hope found in Christ.