Brittany (Wise) Black, Senior Vice President of Sales, Business Development and Marketing for Erickson Incorporated, shares stories from individuals who have been directly impacted by wildfires.
Erickson has been providing aerial firefighting solutions for more than 30 years. As such, we’ve seen the devastating impact of wildfires on individuals. With the upcoming fire season, we’re reminded daily of the risks associated with wildfires and appreciative of the support from firefighters and agencies around the globe supporting a common mission to keep their communities safe.
Recently, wildfires have hit close to home for the Erickson team, and we’ve written several stories on our blog. All these individuals were directly impacted by wildfires in the Western US, but these stories could have been anywhere in the world.
Heather Monson, an Erickson employee who manages the global supply chain and procurement, experienced wildfire firsthand at her southern Oregon home in 2020. She said the wildfire they experienced at their home was a ‘horrifying, traumatic event that was completely unexpected. She said the day started like any other, but she had heard via Facebook that there was a wildfire called, ‘Almeda’, that had started in a nearby city. She said the day was windy, and she could smell the fire in the air, but she didn’t think much about it as she prepared to pick up her son from work.
Later that day the wildfire swept through her neighborhood. In total, 184 homes burned down in her neighborhood. “Miraculously, my home was still standing,” she said. Monson shared that the experience has been devastating because while her home didn’t burn to the ground, the damage was intense – smoke damage, electrical, plumbing, carpeting, installing a new HVAC system, new roof, and outside painting. She counts herself as lucky that the house is still there.
Another Erickson employee of 26 years, Gari Wolff, had lived in the same neighborhood for about 22 years when he experienced wildfire in 2020 – burning his home to the ground. He too experienced the Almeda fire in southern Oregon, where the fire was fast and furious with intense wind, heat, and dryness. In his case, 23 homes in his neighborhood burned down. He said he wished that the Erickson S-64 Air Crane® Helicopter had been on hand to support. He and his wife lost their home and all possessions during the fire. A year later, they are rebuilding and simplifying their lives and new possessions.