UPDATED: Evacuated Old Park man kicks off donation drive with Kum & Go to help feed Silver Creek Fire crews
Updated at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 22 to include clarification on donations.
Jeremy Buckey and his family were one of the last to leave Old Park when it was evacuated Wednesday night. Coming off the mountain, he said his worries turned to confidence once he saw fire crews “giving it all they had.”
“It was amazing what I saw; it was like Fourth of July up there,” he said Friday, recalling crews making airdrops on the fire. “They were giving it everything they got. I came down the mountain with full confidence and have continued that confidence since.”
Buckey, 37, said he hasn’t forgotten what he saw of the Silver Creek Fire, leaving him wanting to help.
On Wednesday, the single father walked into Kum & Go in Kremmling with some money and a selfless idea.
He told Shawn Phee, a manager of the convenience store, that he had $100 to help feed the hundreds of men and women assisting with the Silver Creek Fire. He asked if they’d match his donation.
They did — with Phee, the store’s general manager and a cashier each contributing $100 — and have since raised more than $800 for pizzas, snacks and drinks for the local emergency personnel assisting with the fire.
“My house is up there and there’s a lot of people’s houses up there,” said Buckey, who owns Precision Home Inspections in Kremmling. “These guys are risking their lives to protect my home.”
Buckey’s generosity led Kum & Go to put out a bucket for anybody willing to donate. So far they’ve sent out 80 pizzas and, when they can, Grand County EMS personnel are transporting the food to local first responders and county resources at the front line. U.S. Forest Service employees battling the blaze are unable to accept donations and encourage those wanting to donate to do so locally. Federal employees cannot accept donations.
“We live in an area that is guaranteed to burn at some time in our lives. We made that choice,” Buckey said. “For people who are complaining: put yourself in their shoes.”
That’s what led to his generous donation.
Buckey’s first idea to help was asking fire crews if he could get behind large equipment belonging to his grandfather, such as bulldozers, and help put out the blaze. For safety reasons, he couldn’t.
So then he simply told them that the keys for the machinery were in the ignitions and that crews were welcome to use it.
Buckey’s home, which he shares with his young son, and his 85-year-old grandfather’s home next door, is near the south wall of the Silver Creek Fire, located on the upper loop of County Road 162. They evacuated the home at around 7 p.m. Wednesday following a mandatory evacuation order of Old Park.
“We had sufficient time,” Buckey said of the evacuation process. “They just wanted us out so they could start doing their preparations.”
He grabbed clothes, school clothes for his son and the typical, everyday items, along with some tools. The last thing he grabbed were family photos from off the walls.
Buckey decided to set up camp at Oak Creek Campground, about 20 miles from his home, waiting to hear updates on the blaze.
“The only thing you can do is wait and enjoy the time away from home,” he laughed. “You’ve got to be optimistic.”
People interested in donating can coordinate their donations through Tara Sharp, director of the Kremmling Chamber of Commerce. People should not take food to the incident command or to any crews in the field.
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