A Message Home – from those at the McKinley Fire

#McKinleyFire – Immediately after the wind driven McKinley Fire destroyed 52 private homes, 3 businesses and 84 outbuildings on August 17th and 18th, members of the impacted communities reached out asking what they could donate in appreciation of the round the clock efforts firefighters were making to evacuate residents and save structures. The Alaska Incident Management Team offered a simple suggestion of a stamped postcard and within that initial week hundreds of stamped postcards poured into the command center. Some of these postcards were hand drawn artwork by local artist and elementary school children. Every stamped postcard made a difference to the hundreds of firefighters who responded from Oregon, Idaho, Washington and other areas of the Lower 48.

One of the many stacks of postcards mailed home. Photo Credit: Stephanie Bishop, PIO Division of Forestry

When firefighters take the time to send the postcards you’ve donated home, it shows their loved ones that they the took the time to think through what needed to be said, and the end result is a more thoughtful message. For a firefighter working 16 hour days, taking the time to send a postcard home becomes extremely sentimental and provides a relief from the feelings of missing first days of school, children’s birthdays, anniversaries and family reunions. Receiving the postcard becomes a keepsake to hold onto forever, like those old letters our grandparents have from World War II. 

Throughout their stay, firefighters had some wonderful reading materials to read during dinner.  The thank you cards crafted by the community members and school children brightened their days. Seeing the signs along the highway thanking the fire crews provided daily inspiration. On behalf of all of the firefighters assigned to the McKinley Fire, we extend a heartfelt thank you.

Firefighter reading thank you cards from local elementary school children during dinner. Photo Credit: Emery Johnson, PIO Divison of Forestry

So that question who writes letters anymore when there is technology that allows us to send a message immediately? The answer on the McKinley fire would be five hundred plus personnel and at least double the number as everyone assigned to the fire took at the least two or more postcards to send home. It could be said that at least one thousand post cards were mailed to loved ones all over from the hard-working personnel away from home.

#McKinleyFire
By: S. Bishop

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