It’s interesting to note that this isn’t the first time one of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries have caught fire. Disciples claim this is the work of demons, moved by jealousy against Elder Ephraim because of all the myriad of souls he has saved.
On December 12, 2010, less than a year before the Goldendale fire, there was a fire at these nuns’ “mother monastery” in Serres, Greece, also named “St. John the Forerunner.” Apparently, an electrical problem caused the fire. Initially, their Metropolitan, Theologos, said €2,000,000 was required, then the amount rose to €5,000,000 until it arrived at €8,000,000. A lot of Greeks were scandalized as this was in the midst of the Greek financial crisis (after the 1st bailout and the ECB’s launching of the Securities Market Program). Gerondissa Fevronia and the sisterhood had a Paypal account set up to make it easier for people outside Greece to donate. It is unclear whether the nuns reached their target goal.
In November, 2013, St. Artemios (in Provata), the former cell of Elder Ephraim also caught fire for the second time. Apparently, the cause of the fire was a furnace problem. In 1977, the cell of St. Artemios burned down. Only ruins have remained of most of the buildings. The restoration of the monastery began in 1987, when Fr. Euphemius, a close companion of elder Ephraim, was appointed its Abbot.
On June 15, 2015, the Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Monastery in Saxonburg, PA (under Elder Ephraim) was struck by lightning. The nuns had a GoFundME and Crowdrise set up by lay people. The insurance would cover the cost of the damage but they needed money for their temporary housing. Then the big reveal: ” After 23 years, faulty construction reveals mold, rotting wood, and moisture throughout the entire structure rendering the facility unlivable. Their home, the Church they worship in, the place they welcome pilgrims, has become hazardous.” (the updates on the GoFundMe page are just as interesting as the back story)
On September 9, 2016, the Monastery of the Archangel Michael on the Island of Thassos in Greece (also under Elder Ephraim) was ravaged by fire. The fire department believed the fire was caused by lightning. The fire destroyed some buildings, orchards and gardens. There was a Go Fund Me set up for the Monastery but that has since disappeared. It is unclear whether the nuns met their target goal.
The following article is taken from various newspaper and video reports.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
• 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.
“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.”