MARION COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - One year after wildfires tore across Oregon, one community gathered on Labor Day to celebrate being together one year later.
People from Idanha and Detroit met to celebrate the perseverance of the community, which was devastated by fire.
“It is my belief we’ve only become stronger,” said Damon Faust, deputy chief of Idanha-Detroit Fire.
It’s hard for some to think that it has already been one year since 2020’s historic wildfire season.
“It definitely feels like yesterday, right?” Faust said. “And you can see it in the scarring all around us.”
Many still have not recovered from the trauma of that year. Folks say the fires in surrounding areas this summer have been triggering.
“There’s a lot of people up here still got PTSD. We got people all over the internet up here freaking out, I smell smoke, we got ashes falling down,” said Travis James, a survivor of those wildfires.
James and his wife live in Idanha. The two say they narrowly escaped the flames and falling trees as they drove out of town last year and say they did it all with a popped tire. They say eventually they even got in the back of someone else’s truck.
“My pants caught on fire in the back of the truck from embers landing on my pants,” said James.
The couple’s home was spared from the flames, but was destroyed by sprinklers that were left on to ward off the fire.
James said it took months for progress to be made on rebuilding their home, mainly due to insurance.
“Our adjuster played hardball so bad for so long. We had contractors drag off of jobs, because she wasn’t… and we wiped out our entire savings paying for these contractors, so then we had to sit around and wait for checks to come back in,” he said.
They just managed to get back into their home three weeks ago.
Despite the continued struggles of the community, people chose to get together Monday to honor their community.
“Folks just kept persevering and pushing forward and it is a testament to the resiliency of this community,” said Faust.