Episcopal Conference Center Oakhurst

There is always lots of television news coverage of firefighters and first responders battling to contain wildfires when they first break out, especially when the news crews can film scenes of massive flames threatening life and property, but as the flames die down, so does the coverage, yet, the story goes on. The Ferguson Fire broke out on July 13 and threatened Yosemite National Park. It captured national attention until the park was re-opened on August 14. The fire was declared 100% contained on August 18, yet scores of fire personnel remained to begin the work of post-fire rehabilitation to curtail erosion and to address the other devastating effects to natural resources that occurred due to fire suppression efforts.

Beginning on August 26, ECCO was invited to provide breakfast and dinner meals to the remaining fire crews as well as available rooms, access to showers, and meadows for camping. The ECCO kitchen staff rallied and fed fire-fighters breakfast at 6 a.m. each day and dinner at 7 p.m. each evening in addition to their schedule of providing meals to our scheduled guests at 7-8 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. This schedule continued though breakfast on Friday, September 28. The housekeeping staff was also called upon to provide daily service to turn over rooms used by the crews. During this period, ECCO staff served 2,421 breakfasts, 2,271 dinners, and provided 992 guest room nights of service to fire crew members. Witnessing the interaction of our scheduled guests with the fire crews was often heart-warming as cards of thanks and words of appreciation were offered. This was how we were called to be…

ECCO is currently supporting crews working on the Oak Fire that started on September 22.

While we do not know how ECCO’s continuing response to these requests for support will play out, we do know, at least for a time, that we were able to provide hospitality in our context to people who were strangers among us whom we now count as friends.

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