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Around The Grange
Wildfire rips through California Grange community

By National Grange Press Release (8/22/12)

  AUGUST 30, 2012 --

As wildfires rage across many states in the West and Southwest, one group of Grange members has been particularly hard-hit, with several members’ homes destroyed or damaged by the yet uncontrolled blaze dubbed the “Ponderosa Fire.”

Fire officials say more than 60 homes have been destroyed, including those of two Grange members, in the small town of Manton, in northern California, with a population of about 350. Several other members’ houses have extensive damage.

Most of the town’s residents have been evacuated, and few have been allowed to return.

Nearly 2,000 firefighters continue to battle the blaze that officials say was sparked by a lightening strike on Aug. 18 and has scorched nearly 30,000 acres of the rural area.

Members of Manton Grange No. 732 have used, among other tools, their Grange Facebook page to stay in contact with one another while they’ve been displaced.

A post in the group notes that a Manton Grange member’s home, destroyed by the fire, was featured on a local CBS news report.

As some members of the Manton community returned, they found a waterline
supplying about 54 homes in the area was destroyed by the fire. Local grocers have donated drinking water and Grange members unaffected have offered their water supplies to others.

As members discuss news coverage and the distress caused by the fire, many things remain uncertain, including the state of their Grange Hall, located on Forward Road in Manton, about 170 miles north of Sacramento.

However, members of a group within the Sacramento Pomona Grange No. 2, called GREAT, have already reached out to their Brothers and Sisters in need.

GREAT, Grange Relief Emergency Action Team, was established as a 501(c)3 in 2008 after five Grange members in the Paradise area lost or found their homes damaged by another wildfire, group coordinator Leslie S. Parker, of Rosemont, Calif., said.

“The group works to find resources, including clothes, school supplies, computers and more for Grange members while they wait for insurance or FEMA to respond after an emergency,” Parker, who serves as Overseer of Orangevale Grange No. 354, said. “Our main goal is to respond to a family or neighborhood where members are in need of help.”

The group also lends volunteer assistance, such as clean up crews and private evacuations, said Parker.

Parker said as the situation develops, it is unclear what assistance is most useful to the members at this point. Parker is coordinating relief and service efforts, and suggests contacting GREAT by email at cagrange911@gmail.com or by phone at 888-GRANGE-0.

Parker said an affiliated website, www.grange911.org, has out-of-date contact information, but does present a description of the program. GREAT also has a facebook group.

A day of service in the area after the fire is contained is also planned with more details to come.

Grange Foundation Secretary Jimmy Gentry called on board members to accept donations earmarked for fire victims of Manton Grange.

“When our members are in distress, we have always come together to support them. That is the backbone of our fraternity,” Gentry said. “It’s only right that the Grange Foundation work to support these members in their greatest time of need. We pray for the safety and well-being of the member’s lives and property and we open our hearts to them in this trying time.”

Donations can be sent by check to the Grange Foundation with Manton Fire written in the memo line.

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