A task force of local ranchers and farmers from Wasco and Sherman counties will help decide how $27,000 in a wildfire relief fund should be distributed.

Ken Polehn, president of the Wasco County Farm Bureau, said the funds will be used for losses not compensated by insurance or other public and private relief funds.

“I think that we are going to find that fencing is one of the things that is not covered,” he said.

Applications are available through the Oregon Farm Bureau at www.oregonfb.org/fire, and will be accepted until Nov. 1.

Polehn said the task force, which also includes OFB representatives, will then decide how the money that was donated by individuals, businesses and community members will be distributed.

The plan, he said, is to provide between $2,000-$25,000 to each qualified applicant, although that number could change depending upon how many requests for help are submitted.

To be eligible for assistance, the farmer or rancher must make a substantial amount of their livelihood from agriculture and had losses in any of the wildfires this summer.

“You do not have to be a farm bureau member to apply for or receive funds,” said Polehn.

He expects funds to be distributed by Thanksgiving.

The relief fund was set up after Northwest Farm Credit Services donated $15,000 after two major wildfires destroyed houses and outbuildings in Wasco and Sherman counties. A third fire then ignited near Dufur and there was additional damage in that blaze.

OFB invited its members and others to contribute to the fund, and donations are still being accepted.

The Substation Fire started July 17 on the east side of Highway 197 just outside The Dalles and moved about 300 feet a minute due to very high winds.

The life of one farmer on the fire line was lost. In addition, about 80,000 acres in Wasco and Sherman counties were destroyed before the flames were contained about two weeks later. Four homes and numerous barns and outbuildings were destroyed.

That blaze followed the Long Hollow Fire that was sparked July 26 by a combine harvesting wheat about five miles southwest of Dufur and consumed about 33,451 acres, destroying one historical building.

The South Valley Fire started Aug. 1 and destroyed 18 structures. That blaze ignited Aug. 1 in an unoccupied shop on South Valley Road.

Contributions to the fire relief fund can be sent to: Oregon Farm Bureau, C/O Patty Kuester, 1320 Capitol St. NE, Salem, OR 97301.

For more information about applications, or farm bureau programs, contact Polehn at kenpolehn@gmail.com or Dave Dillon at dave@oregonfb.org.

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