Communities helping commUnities

Paskenta, CA is the home of approximately 112 residents and is a tight knit ranching community just miles away from the Mendocino National Forest (MNF). On August 16, 2020 fire crews began responding to several fires that were ignited by lightning during thunderstorms that passed over the area. The August Complex was comprised of 37 fires ranging from one-tenth acre to 2,000 acres as more fires began to surface and spread rapidly. The Doe Fire was assigned around 100 personnel and quickly grew to 2,000 acres as well. These are just two of the fires mentioned that grew substantially in less than 24 hours.

Some of the Paskenta locals have pulled together to cook meals and provide supplies for firefighters and those involved with the fires.

“It’s hard to put into words just how special this little community is. Paskenta, Flournoy and the surrounding areas are a special place. The people have the biggest hearts and are always there to help.

Last week when the fires started above Paskenta, it was very clear how little resources were available. Limited crews and equipment. No fire camp closer than 1 hour each way, and that’s if they’re already off the mountain.

The local logging company, Crane Mills along with private contractors and more headed up the mountain to help the fire crews.

There was a few cases where lunches didn’t arrive like scheduled. These crews are working incredibly hard and some didn’t have access to food without traveling an extra 2+ hours round trip.

Locals heard this and were fast to spring in action. I’ve heard many of them say “If these crews are working so hard to protect our town and area, the least we can do is make sure they have a warm meal at the end of the day.”

Since Monday, locals have been serving up dinner and a quick breakfast for crews as they head up the mountain to work. They opened up the park in Paskenta to let the non local crews stay there instead of the side of the road. A few firefighters mentioned they hadn’t had a shower in a week. Again locals were quick to find a solution and rigged up a shower with a big tank and tarps.

All of this has been funded by locals. A few local businesses have graciously donated some products. All are extremely appreciated. I’m so proud to be from this little town. To be the wife of a firefighter and to come from a logging family. Crane Mills was my first job. They have a special place in my heart.

If you see any of these people pictured; helpers, loggers and firemen, please thank them for what they are doing for our community.” – Justine Reddish

The elementary/middle school in the neighboring town of Flournoy, CA even contributed their support by making encouraging signs for fire crews as they drive up the mountain.

At Andersen & Sons, we employ some past firefighters from this area and when they asked to donate to the cause, we didn’t think twice. We donated over 1,000 pounds of almond snack packs to help firefighters stay fueled while working long days cutting fire line and fighting fire.

We are truly grateful for their hard work!

Currently the Complex is at 200,467 acres and 17% contained and the Doe Fire is at 162,326 acres and 31% contained according to the Fire Net report on August 27th, 2020. The Forest Service is working together with Cal Fire crews and Crane Mills Timber to tie in the containment lines.

Written by Kristin Coley of Andersen & Sons Shelling and former MNF Fire Technician.

Photos by Justine Reddish, of Justine Reddish Photography and wife of MNF Fire Prevention Officer. Find her on Instagram @justinereddishphotography