Monastery Complex Fire in Goldendale (September, 2011)

NOTE: The following article is taken from various newspaper and video reports:

Three sisters from the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner, about 10 miles east of Goldendale, race across Highway 97 on Wednesday. The nuns were bringing garden hoses across the highway to fight the fire. They also used rags to beat the flames down near their monastery. The Monastery Complex fire had grown to 5.300 acres by Thursday. (Roger Mullis/AP)
3 nuns from the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner, about 10 miles east of Goldendale, race across Highway 97 on Wednesday. The nuns were bringing garden hoses across the highway to fight the fire. They also used rags to beat the flames down near their monastery. The Monastery Complex fire had grown to 5.300 acres by Thursday.

Clark County firefighters help battle wildfire: Monastery Complex near Goldendale has grown to 5,300 acres

By Eric Florip
Columbian Staff Reporter
Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sister Ephraimia, a Greek Orthodox nun, shovels dirt onto small flames near Goldendale, Wash. on Thursday Sept. 8, 2011. The sister and other nuns helped firefighters battle a wildfire that threatened their monastery and has burned several homes.
Sister Ephraimia, a Greek Orthodox nun, shovels dirt onto small flames near Goldendale, Wash. on Thursday Sept. 8, 2011. The sister and other nuns helped firefighters battle a wildfire that threatened their monastery and has burned several homes.

A 17-member strike force from Clark County has joined the effort to battle the fast-moving Monastery Complex fire northeast of Goldendale.
The strike team, with members representing Clark County Fire & Rescue, Washougal Fire and fire districts 3, 10 and 13, was told to expect to spend at least a week fighting fires, Battalion Chief Gordon Brooks of Fire District 10 said.
The fire, which sparked around noon Wednesday, is spreading quickly.

Sister Katerina, right, hands a bucket of water to sister Prodromia, while they and other nuns at St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery, extinguish spot fires around their property, which was threatened the night before by a wildfire near Goldendale, Wash., Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011.
Sister Katerina, right, hands a bucket of water to sister Prodromia, while they and other nuns at St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery, extinguish spot fires around their property, which was threatened the night before by a wildfire near Goldendale, Wash., Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011.

As of 7 a.m. Thursday, the fire burned about 1,100 acres. By late Thursday afternoon, it had swelled to more than 5,300 acres, said Bryan Flint, communications director for the state Department of Natural Resources.
The fire is about 120 highway miles east of Vancouver.

Greek Orthodox sisters from Saint Johns Monastery help to fight the 250-acre Monastery Fire that threatened their home Wednesday.
Greek Orthodox sisters from Saint Johns Monastery help to fight the 250-acre Monastery Fire that threatened their home Wednesday.

As flames swallowed dense swaths of ponderosa pine in Klickitat County, the blaze dried out the air and fuel ahead of it, Flint said. Its energy also kicked up swift air movement on an otherwise calm day, he said.
“The fire is creating its own weather pattern that’s driving the fire,” said Flint, who spent Thursday at a fire managers’ operations center in Goldendale. “That’s why it’s spreading as fast as it is.”

Monastery Complex fire incinerates 64 structures in Goldendale
Monastery Complex fire incinerates 64 structures in Goldendale

The fire complex destroyed nine homes and 10 outbuildings as of Thursday afternoon, and threatened another 300 structures. Hundreds of people have been evacuated because of the fire, though no injuries have been reported. A large section of U.S. Highway 97 and other roads were disrupted throughout the day Thursday. Brooks Memorial State Park was also closed.

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“They’re going to have a busy day today,” Brooks said Thursday. Brooks has assisted with more wildfires than he can count. He wasn’t able to go this time because of a foot injury, but his department sent four firefighters.

Clark County Fire & Rescue sent five people and one truck to help, said Battalion Chief Dean Lange. This isn’t the first wildfire has crew has helped battle this year, he said, but a wet, cool spring and early summer delayed the arrival of this fire season.

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“It’s happened late before like this, but this is much later,” Lange said.
Sending staff to help with fires outside a district’s jurisdiction doesn’t have too big an effect on local response to fires, Brooks said. Each department will send a small number of people, he said.

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The fire was believed to have started along Highway 97 north of Goldendale, just across the street from the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner. The 19 nuns and employees, who operate a well-known bakery there, saw flames and immediately ran outside with water, rakes and rags to beat back the fire.

Several customers in the bakery also joined in the effort until firefighters arrived, said Sister Parthenia, who has been at the monastery for 19 years.

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“We’re just so grateful to God and everyone’s efforts. The firefighters worked so hard, even opened up a line up there,” she said, pointing behind one of their buildings. “We thought that was sweet they wanted to save our barn.”
A total of 288 personnel were battling the fire late Thursday, Flint said. That includes crews from nearly every county in the state, he said.

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It was too early to tell late Thursday what percentage of the fire had been contained, Flint said. The fire was mostly moving southeast.
Warm, dry weather isn’t going to make fighting the fire any easier. Highs will be in the upper 80s and low 90s through Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

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Starting Tuesday, things will cool off. Highs in Goldendale are expected to be in the low 80s and high 70s next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Comments

Marie Eliades That’s our girls! Look at these photos on line and all over the press.. our girls fighting fire..both physical and spiritual! Glory to God…Today I’ve heard the monastery is totally safe but blackend…with love from another mom of a nun (Life Giving Spring) Hi Donna! Reply • 5 • Like • Follow Post • September 9, 2011 at 1:09am

• Donna Armstrong Young • Wasilla, Alaska This is the monastery where our daughter is a nun. She called earlier today and said they were all safe and had been evacuated. At that time the monastery buildings were still intact. I haven’t heard anything since then. My daughter is the one on the left in this picture.

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http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/sep/08/clark-county-firefighters-battling-monastery-compl/

“We’re just so grateful to God and everyone’s efforts. The firefighters worked so hard….We thought that was sweet they wanted to save our barn.” “It was very scary,” said Sister Theopisti. “Thanks to the blessings of God and prayer.”

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Fire Threatens Monastery In Goldendale, Washington (2013)

The Satus Pass fire, located in Goldendale, Washington has presently consumed nearly 9,000 acres, with over 800 firefighters working to control this fire. The Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner in Goldendale is in the vicinity of this fire. The sisters have been evacuated and are seeking refuge in nearby homes. His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos has been in contact with the sisters and they are all safe, and at the present time the Monastery has not sustained any damage.
“This has already been a devastating year of fires throughout the United States. Once again, we find ourselves facing yet another threat as the Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner finds itself in a path of danger,” stated His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco. “We pray for the firefighters who are bravely working to save lives and structures, and we ask for the Lord to calm the fires and bring favorable weather so that no harm may come upon the people in this area.”
Two years ago, this same Monastery was threatened by fire and the sisters joined with the local residents and firefighters in working to protect their property and assist their neighbors and community. Thankfully, the Monastery was spared from damage in 2011 and it is the fervent prayer of the clergy and faithful of the Metropolis of San Francisco that this same outcome may be realized.
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco will provide further updates as additional information becomes available.
Fr. Timothy Pavlatos, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at NW Counseling Associates, LLC (OR)
Fr. Timothy Pavlatos, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at NW Counseling Associates, LLC (OR)
nuns at the monastery preparing to fight the fire
nuns at the monastery preparing to fight the fire