Family waiting to rebuild McKenzie River Inn nearly a year after Holiday Farm Fire

“What we didn't lose in the fire, we’re losing because of the heat wave.”

Posted: Aug 10, 2021 1:31 PM
Updated: Aug 10, 2021 6:32 PM

VIDA, Ore. -- The Holiday Farm Fire is nearing a devastating one-year anniversary.

Even 11 months after the fire burned more than 173,000 acres and destroyed more than 400 homes, many families are still waiting to rebuild. Some lost homes. Some lost businesses. Others lost both.

That’s the case for Annie Margarita, Bert de Klerk and their family. Their livelihood, the McKenzie River Inn, came crumbling down that September night. It was built more than 100 years ago and has welcomed guests from all over the world.

“It’s a huge process,” Margarita said. “We had an older house. So we had to completely get the plans built with new laws.”

Their plan permit finally came back, but new revisions still need to be made for ADA requirements. They did just receive a septic pass for a repair permit.

The family believes it won’t be until March when they can move back in and years before they can welcome guests back. They shared that insurance is only giving them half of what the inn was worth.

“We’re struggling with trying to get enough rooms to make it work and to make it viable,” Margarita said.

KEZI first spoke with the family just hours after the fire broke out in September. Then again back in February when they thought major progression would have been made in the rebuilding process.

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They decided to build a fence with a gate due to many walking onto their property without permission. They say privacy should be respected.

“It’s so personal to us to have people walk on the property and start taking pictures," Margarita said.

RELATED: NIMROD FAMILY REFLECTS ON HOLIDAY FARM FIRE, SHARES ROAD TO REBUILDING

Their focus right now is building barriers and doing everything they can to maintain the vegetation on their property.

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“We’re watering the grass,” de Klerk said. “We’re watering the trees. We’re watering everything we can, but you see how parched it is.”

Margarita said they’re keeping all the trees down and away from the property.

“It’s going to be hotter where the inn sits, instead of the beautiful canopy we had before,” Margarita said. “We’re too afraid because there’s still a huge fire risk.”

The drought and extreme heat are not doing favors toward the rebuilding process. The family has a friend who has stepped in to help with the watering of the property each day.

“It’s a full day task,” de Klerk said. “For eight hours, he’s busy. That's a lot of watering.”

“What we didn't lose in the fire, we’re losing because of the heat wave,” Margarita said.

As they put it, they're ready for a new chapter, which starts by rebuilding from the ashes.

“I’m 65, so I should be retired,” de Klerk said. “I can't, especially after this disaster.”

For a list of Holiday Farm Fire recovery resources, CLICK HERE.

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