In the wake of tragedy, many local residents and businesses in the Oakhurst Area have organized fundraising events to support the victims of the Junction Fire and Courtney Fire. Combined, the two large fires claimed 35 homes in the mountain community. The distribution of funds raised in these efforts will begin on Friday, November 7, 2014.

Through an account setup at Yosemite Bank, The Oakhurst Area Fire Relief Fund will offer financial assistance to residents who lost their homes. The account currently has over $60,000 and a committee was formed to handle the collection and dispersing of money raised. On the committee is Mathew Sands, Honorary Mayor of Oakhurst, Deb Payne, Owner of Queen’s Inn, and Betty Linn, Publisher of Sierra Star. The committee will evenly distribute checks to all victims that opt into the fund.

The Junction Fire started near Junction Drive in Oakhurst on August 18, 2014 and destroyed five homes. The cause of that fire has yet to be determined and an investigation is ongoing. A man burning a deer carcass said he started the Courtney Fire on September 14, 2014. That fire started near Courtney Lane in Oakhurst and destroyed 30 homes in the Bass Lake Heights area.

Many businesses have assisted in fundraising efforts in various ways, such as providing a location for these events, offering their products or services at little or no charge, donating items for silent auctions or taking the time to organize and promote events. Some of the businesses that contributed to the fund include Ahwahnee Heating and Air Conditioning, Ditton Realty, Erna’s Elderberry House, Hitching Post, Miller’s Landing, Oakhurst Giftworks, Oakhurst Online, Queen’s Inn, SierraTel, South Gate Brewing Co., and United Security Bank.

“Locals wanted to help fellow residents that lost their homes but didn’t know how to distribute the funds,” says Mathew Sands. “We set up the Oakhurst Area Fire Relief Fund to help with that immediate need in our community. It’s nice to see something good come from a bad situation and we have seen so many wonderful people offer to help after this tragedy,” Sands said.

If you would like to donate, the account at Yosemite Bank will be open until Thursday, November 6, 2014. Victims of both fires can visit Sierra Star to fill out a form to be included in the fund. All forms must be filled out no later than Thursday, November 6, 2014, as checks will be written for the victims the following day. For more information, contact Mathew Sands at (559) 426-5591.

For more information on these fires and the fundraising efforts, read the following news articles:

Oakhurst Area Fire Relief Fund
by Staff, Sierra Star
September 17, 2014

Officials warn of danger as Courtney fire near Bass Lake keeps burning
by Carmen George, The Fresno Bee
September 17, 2014

Community rallies behind Courtney Fire victims
by Brian Wilkinson, Sierra Star
September 23, 2014

Rummage sale to benefit fire victims
by Morgan Voorhis, The Sierra Star
October 17, 2014