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Holiday Farm Fire survivors moved from hotels to make room for track athletes

"It was hard being told that the safe space that you had for the last eight and a half months was now being taken away from you."

Posted: Jun 4, 2021 7:25 PM
Updated: Jun 4, 2021 11:03 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- About nine months after some survivors of the Holiday Farm Fire moved into hotels in Eugene and Springfield, they have been forced to relocate once again.

That's because the same hotels that have been providing temporary housing to more than 100 survivors are now making room for athletes attending large track events, including the Olympic Trials.

"Because of COVID, schools, the universities did not want their athletes to double up. They wanted one athlete per room," said Oregon Department of Human Service's (ODHS) Regional Emergency Coordinator Jeff Gilbert. "So suddenly, that grew the footprint twice or three times larger than they ever would have."

Moving multiple times in a year has taken a toll on many of the survivors, including Melanie Stanley.

"It was hard being told that the safe space that you had for the last eight and a half months was now being taken away from you," said Stanley.

The survivors were offered rooms at two other locations including the GuestHouse Inn & Suites in Springfield. But, Stanley said, when they arrived, many expressed concern over the condition of the rooms.

"We were guaranteed safe, secure and sanitary, and that place is not any of those,” Stanley said.

Another issue many survivors encountered upon arriving to their new, temporary homes, was the lack of essential appliances including refrigerators and microwaves.

"We shouldn't have been moved there in the condition that the hotel was in,” Stanley said.

ODHS said it is working with hotel staff to address the survivors’ concerns about the quality of their new rooms. Stanley said refrigerators and microwaves were provided to those staying at the new hotel after 12 days. She also said some people have been moved to different rooms because of issues including a broken air conditioning unit and fleas.

Stanley was staying at the Holiday Express Inn in Eugene until the beginning of last month when she was given a notice saying she had to get out.

"The hardest part is that there just are no hotels at least for the month of June," Stanley said. "There are no hotels available in Eugene and Springfield because of the contracting issues."

MORE: TEMPORARY HOUSING COMING TO RAINBOW FOR HOLIDAY FARM FIRE SURVIVORS

ODHS is also working with two properties in the Eugene/Springfield area to establish a more permanent solution for the displaced survivors.

"Those are contract negotiations right now that are ongoing," Gilbert said. "It looks like contracts could be signed quickly."

ODHS did not reveal what two properties they are considering.

Even though the devastating fire happened last September, Stanley said the rebuilding process is far from over.

"I just want people to realize that we're still fighting," Stanley said.

KEZI reached out to the GuestHouse Inn & Suites for comment, but was referred to the state. KEZI also reached out to the Holiday Express Inn who said no one was available to provide a comment. 

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