SHAVER LAKE, Calif. (KGPE) – It has been one year exactly since the Creek Fire began in the mountains of Fresno and Madera Counties. Almost 380,000 acres burned and over 850 homes and buildings were destroyed. On Saturday, the Shaver Lake community came together to celebrate the strength of all who survived the fire at an event called ‘One Year Stronger’ at the Shaver Lake Community Center.
Howard Hendrix was a 15 year resident of Pine Ridge and lost his home just 3 days after the fire started. For him, the event brought mixed emotions.
“It’s bittersweet because it’s the anniversary of when we lost our home to the Creek Fire,” Hendrix said. “But it’s sweet because we see a lot of our neighbors, a lot of our friends, we had a community.”
Hendrix says during the first few days of the fire, he and his neighbors kept each other informed on the worsening situation until a mandatory evacuation was issued for Pine Ridge.
“When the mandatory came in early on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 6, 2020), we got the news to everyone, everyone left, Monday our house burned. The houses in our area, in Pine Ridge, burned 66 out of 88 homes.”
For Hendrix and hundreds of others, groups like the Creek Fire Recovery Collaborative are helping those who have lost their homes bounce back, including help with finding housing, mental health, or financial assistance. The collaborative is the group behind the One Year Stronger Event.
“If you come to us, we do an intake and then we can make sure that you’re connected with the various organizations that can help in the specific needs that those people have,” said Ari Arroyo, chair of the Creek Fire Recovery Collaborative Board.
The One Year Stronger event is also a fresh start for local vendors and artists who rely on community events.
“Any little tiny act of kindness means so much more when you’re kind of destitute and alone,” said Jamie Licausi, an artist who makes stained glass pieces in Tollhouse. She says prior to the fire community markets in the Shaver Area was the best way for her to share her work with others. “It’s really nice to have a community that will come together like this and support each other.”
To help those impacted by the Creek Fire visit creekfirerecovery.com to learn more on how you can get involved.