Special Sections : West Fire

Wednesday, Mar 09 2011 04:40 PM

Tehachapi’s Salvation Army unit lifted up Old West Ranch fire victims

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Marget Willer Salvation Army

Bruce Burson was just one of the Old West Ranch fire victims helped by the Tehachapi Service Unit of the Salvation Army.

The unit, under the direction of Marget Willer, provided for the most pressing needs — food, clothing, temporary shelter — as well as long-term power needs (Old West Ranch is off the grid).

Donations came from the local community and were returned to the community.

“We took in $25,000 and spent $25,000,” said Willer, who kept track of every penny donated for West Ranch relief and where it went.

Of the $25,000, most came from two large donations — $15,000 raised by the West Fire Relief Music Festival organized by Orion Sanders of Funds for Freedom, Inc. and co-sponsored by the Salvation Army.

Another large donation was $5,000 from Union Bank. Kelly Saunders is branch manager.

Funds went to help get people reestablished and for basics.

“We purchased batteries for most of the families who had total losses,” Willer said. The organization provided entire solar systems for two of the families.

The Salvation Army also provided vouchers for vehicle fuel, propane, rentals from BS&E Equipment, hotels and groceries.

The Salvation Army gave out $10,000 in vouchers in amounts of $50 and $100, Willer said.

While Bruce Burson’s mobile home, valued at $35,000, was donated by Rimer Homes, the Salvation Army paid $4,700 for the delivery and installation.

The Salvation Army helped replace work tools for one fire victim and, in one case, replaced $2,800 dentures that a man lost in the fire.

An older couple received a stove, blankets, a heater and fuel vouchers.

They moved to a flat lot in Rosamond, Willer said, abandoning the rugged mountain life.

“She’s so happy,” Will said.

Because they had a permitted building at Old West Ranch, the county waived permit fees for them on the Rosamond land, a savings of $3,000. 

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