'I planned on working there until I died': Detroit woman devastated after losing gas station in wildfire

DETROIT, OR (KPTV) - The Beachie Creek Fire has burned 191,238 acres and destroyed hundreds of structures, including several in Detroit.

“When I go to sleep at night, that’s what I see," Shauna Edwards said.

A bright red sky and flames as Edwards escaped Detroit. Edwards owned a gas station there for 27 years. She said one of her employees, Ellen Hatt-Nickel, saved her.

“At 1:30 in the morning, she called, and she said get ready now! We’re leaving. She left with nothing. She had her nightgown on," Edwards said. "I’ve been through a lot in my life and that was probably the most terrifying experience I’ve ever been through because everything was on fire.”

As they left, Edwards said this to first responders directing them out: “My last words to him were: ‘don’t let my gas station burn.”

Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. Edwards said her gas station, a staple to the community and a place her daughters helped at for several summers, gone in the flames of the Beachie Creek fire.

“It’s devastating. That was my life. I planned on working there until I died. I planned on keeping it and working forever because that's what I planned and because I love my employees," Edwards said, hugging Hatt-Nickel. "I love her, I love my employees.”

After seeing the devastation happening in Oregon, disaster-relief non-profit Global Empowerment Mission felt the need to step up and provide supplies like gift cards, masks and clothes to those in the area.

“We assess their needs. So, this community has 400 people they’re going to need supplies to get them through for the next three months. Then we work with our corporate sponsorships in the United States and have them send large amounts of supplies," Michael Capponi, founder of Global Empowerment Mission, said.

The non-profit even coordinated a flight for one of Edwards' daughters to fly in from California to be with her mom and sisters.

“This is my home. This is my childhood. So, it’s a huge loss. It’s a deep loss," Janine Edwards, Shauna's daughter, said. “In trauma and in tragedy you need your family, and you need to know your family has your back and they’re here for you. That’s why it was important for us to rally together.”

Even after devastation, Edwards is just glad to have her family by her side.

“I’m very blessed. You know, we’ve lost things, but I have them. And that’s really important. That’s everything," Edwards said.

If you want to donate to the Global Empowerment Mission to help, you can go to their website

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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