Clackamas firefighters help with local wildfires and head to Texas to clean up after Hurricane Harvey

Clackamas firefighters have been busy lately, stretching themselves outside of the county by helping save Multnomah Falls Lodge from the Eagle Creek Fire that they've been continuing to battle, and going to Southern Oregon to battle the Chetco Bar Fire.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - A Clackamas Fire crew gets ready to head out on the fire line in the Columbia Gorge.

Additionally some local retired firefighters left last week to help out the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Retired in March, Clackamas Fire engineer/paramedic Bob Norton will be taking his daughter Abbie Norton, fellow retired firefighter Mike Wilson and recent OCHS graduate Alex Breedlove.

Abbie Norton, 18, is a recent graduate of OCHS who was inspired by her father's work in 2005. She was only 6 at the time, but she remembers vividly her father's bravery in heading south in the wake of a hurricane.

"I thought about my dad going to help out Katrina victims previously and I wanted to help out with SUBMITTED PHOTO - In 2005, Clackamas firefighter Bob Norton and his daughter Abbie Norton, 6, are interviewed by KOIN 6 News prior to going to help Katrina victims.Harvey," she said. "After seeing Harvey's destruction and massive flooding on the news day after day, I knew that I wanted to be part of a similar mission and I convinced my dad to do it again."

In 2005, Bob Norton, along with fellow firefighters Al Laurie and Jim Sprague, drove Norton's own truck with a borrowed cargo trailer loaded with donations and supplies and drove straight through to the Mississippi Gulf coast.

"When they arrived, Katrina's flood waters had receded, leaving an unimaginable mess in her wake," Abbie Norton said. "They were only able to stay two weeks but they helped with the gutting of and cleanup efforts of various homes and a grade school, as well as tarping roofs, replacing a wheelchair ramp, removing trees from homes, etc."

They were able to stay with a relative, Bruce Norton of Mississippi, on their last trip, but they're bringing camping equipment this time because they don't know where they'll be staying. They are prepared to camp in a Walmart parking lot if need be.

They are stuffing their two-horse slant-load trailer full of donated supplies, along with their own tools and equipment, including a pressure washer, generators, power tools, wheelbarrow and hand tools.

"We are going to work hard and get dirty," Abbie Norton said.

They are raising money to assist with fuel expenses, purchasing and donating additional supplies after they arrive. Lumber and tarps will be used to try to help people salvage what is left of their homes.

"Any monies left over will be distributed by us personally to families, individuals or organizations that we feel will benefit the most in that specific area," Abbie Norton said. "We are asking for your donations to help us help at least a few of the unfortunate people of Texas or Louisiana. Your donation, no matter how small, will let those people know that people from as far as Oregon do truly care, and support them when their lives have been turned upside down."

The page to provide donations is They've been collecting funds and donations of materials at the Oregon City Fred Meyer, and at the Oregon City Farmers Market, but they've filled up their vehicles with donated supplies from generous locals.

"We're going to eat and camp on our own dime, but that GoFundMe would go to our fuel costs," Bob Norton said. "We have to leave room for our tools and our camping equipment because we're prepared to camp wherever we can find a spot."

SUBMITTED PHOTO - In 2005, Clackamas firefighter Bob Norton, Al Laurie and Jim Sprague repair a wheelchair ramp in Mississippi that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Raymond Rendleman
News editor, Clackamas Review/Oregon City News
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