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Colton holds dinner and awards night as thanks for housing firefighters, families and equipment in September 2020

On Monday, Sept. 27, volunteer firefighters of Colton Rural Fire Protection District #70 drove to the main station of Aurora Fire District. There the Colton firefighters thanked Aurora with a dinner party and awards night for inviting them into their station when Colton Fire Station had to be evacuated during the wildfires of September 2020.

Back then, Aurora Fire District staged Colton's fire equipment and approximately 15 firefighters, along with several of their family members, while the Colton stations were closed during the evacuation orders.

"This was a chance for the Colton Fire volunteers to thank Aurora Fire District and its members for opening their station and homes to us during the wildfires," Colton Fire Lieutenant Brad Kuhn said. "When they heard that we had been forced to evacuate, they invited us into their 'house.' They put out a call to the community, and within hours, the building was overflowing with food, clothing and supplies. It was an amazing outpouring of support and one that we will always be grateful for.

"Monday night was an opportunity to say thank you to our brothers and sisters at Aurora Fire for helping us when we were in need. They are incredible people, and they were our heroes during those very trying times."

Aurora Fire Chief Joshua Williams said, "What we did was not extraordinary; it was just the right thing to do."

PMG PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - Aurora Fire Chief Joshua Williams receives a commemorative wood plaque by Colton artist Josh Kiersey from Colton Fire Lieutenant Brad Kuhn.

Kuhn presented the Aurora Fire Department with a tribute plaque crafted by Colton artist Josh Keirsey and thanked the town of Aurora and their firefighters for going above and beyond. Their assistance helped the Colton Fire team continue their efforts on the front line of the fires.

CFD firefighter Eric Bjarnson presented the Aurora firefighting team who helped to contain the wildfire on Unger Road in Colton with a token of gratitude from the Kobielsky family, owners of the Coyote Lavender Farm. The farm and family home were in imminent danger as the fire raged around their farmland. The firefighters managed to build containment lines around the Kobielsky's property and save it from the firestorm. Even now, if you drive to the farm on South Unger Road you will see the black trees and scorched ground on all sides of the property that was ultimately saved by firefighters.

Bjarnson read the accompanying letter from the Kobielsky family:

"Please accept our gift of this commemorative artwork titled 'We Rise Together' along with our most heartfelt gratitude for all of your heroic deeds and efforts, especially during the 2020 wildfires.

"As a result of those incredible efforts, our family has our home, our farm and our community. We simply cannot thank you enough and it's our hope that as you enjoy this artwork you will all be reminded of our deepest appreciation for all that you do, with thankfulness."

The Workshop of Estacada catered the banquet meal, which along with the main meal, included several vegan options and lots of desserts. The firefighters sat around the room eating and reminiscing about fighting the out-of-control fires, and they took time to celebrate the new friends made during the wildfires of 2020.

Honors given to Colton Firefighters

The Oregon Fire Chiefs Association recently honored several members of Colton Rural Fire Protection District #70 with the meritorious 2021 Distinguished Conduct Award:

Chief Richard Beaudoin

Assistant Chief Kerry Benthin

Lieutenant Jaeden Brown

Lieutenant Tyler Carlson

Firefighter Brian Benthin

Firefighter Geri Benthin

Firefighter Tim Behrens

Firefighter Nate Kulland

Firefighter Kelly O'Laughin

Firefighter Matt Rodriguez

Apparatus operator Eric Bjarnson

Apparatus operator Mike Decristoforo

Apparatus operator Frank Kaneaster

Apparatus operator Tom Judd

Apparatus operator Justin Oberlander

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