'A treasure of the McKenzie': Firefighters recount saving Goodpasture Bridge

Training Capt. David Sherwood said he was initially doubtful about the crew’s ability to protect the 82-year-old structure from the fast-moving wildfire.

Posted: Sep 25, 2020 12:05 PM
Updated: Sep 25, 2020 12:10 PM

LEABURG, Ore. – Firefighters who saved the historic Goodpasture Covered Bridge near Vida from the destruction of the Holiday Farm Fire said they hope the structure’s survival serves as inspiration to the community.

Four members of McKenzie Fire and Rescue, as well as a member of the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office, responded to the bridge on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at the request of Fire Chief Darren Bucich.

Training Capt. David Sherwood was among the five men who responded and said crews began laying hose line and covered the bridge in a protective foam as the flames grew near.

Sherwood said he was initially doubtful about the crew’s ability to protect the 82-year-old structure from the fast-moving wildfire.

“I wasn’t 100% optimistic to be honest,” Sherwood said. “Just because of what I saw in Vida and how fast the fire was moving and the way the fire behavior was. So, for this to be standing today is a real surprise in a way.”

Sherwood credited his team’s quick action and thinking for allowing the bridge to escape the fire’s wrath with only a small burn to a shingle on the roof.

“It is a treasure of the McKenzie. The importance of it I think will ring true for many years to come because if it’s standing now. I just hope people can use that as a symbol of inspiration to continue to be in this community,” Sherwood said.

The bridge, built in 1938, spans across the McKenzie River and has become a symbol of the community. The structure is said to be one of the “most frequently photographed” covered bridges and is also the second longest covered bridge in Oregon, second only to Office Bridge in Westfir.

“The efforts that were done in this community were by a team. It wasn’t just individuals. There were monumental efforts done by people from out of district, from Lane County, people from the state, people within our own jurisdiction were doing incredible things,” Sherwood said.

The five people who responded directly to the bridge that afternoon were David Sherwood, Rich Labell, Matt Brooks, Garrett Corbari and Dave Breitenstein.

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