Helping Homeowners Sift Through the Ashes in California Dixie Fire Aftermath

GREENVILLE, CA — When the first sparks of the Dixie Fire ignited in Plumas County, California, in July, no one could have predicted that it would burn clear across the Sierra over the next two months and consume nearly 1 million acres to become the second-largest wildfire in the state’s history.

The conflagration destroyed over 1,300 structures and torched most of the historic Gold Rush-era town of Greenville, reducing it and over 100 nearby houses to ash. One of the homes incinerated belonged to Ken Donnell.

“There’s no ambiguity about my loss here,” Ken said, as he stood among the charred ruins of his property that also previously housed several businesses he owned. Nothing belonging to him escaped the fire’s fury.

When Samaritan’s Purse volunteers arrived to help Ken search through the rubble, he said there was one particular item he dearly desired to find—the wedding ring that his late wife had given to him.

See how God used Samaritan’s Purse to show Ken His love as they searched for his most precious possession.

Steve WorkmanVolunteer:

Love suffers long and is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Ken DonnellHomeowner:

There’s no ambiguity about my loss here. I had both my home and my multiple businesses here. They were all part of one property. They’re now mostly ashes or twisted metal.

Steve Workman:

It just touches you. Everything– everything is gone. We are here in Greenville, California with Samaritan’s Purse, responding to the Dixie fires.

We have a task and a job. The task is go in and look for that valuable possession of the homeowner; but the job is the homeowner themselves, and just to pour out the love that God has given us into them. And this is just one way to be able to come out and to love on people like this.

Ken Donnell:

I really want to talk about this precious piece right here, which was just found by the volunteers of Samaritan’s Purse, in and amidst the rubble of my house. And this was my wedding band for my late wife, Judy Johnson. And we found just this one ring here. That’s enough. I have one precious thing to remember my life here by and to remember my wife by.

Volunteer:

Sometimes we’re very successful, and other times we’re not. But by the time we leave, they know that we’ve given it our best shot, and that we love them and so does God.

Ken Donnell:

First Corinthians, 13th chapter– that just says it all. The love that Samaritan’s Purse has shown to me here today is priceless. Well thank you. Thank you to Samaritan’s Purse for helping me find this treasure.


Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Samaritan’s Purse International Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) program is committed to meeting the critical needs of victims of war, poverty, famine, disease, and natural disaster. We stand ready to respond at a moment’s notice whenever and wherever disaster strikes. The DART specializes in providing water, food, shelter, and medical care while sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

CONTACT: Melissa Nystrom, [email protected]


Read more news on Non Profit / Faith Based Organizations, and Disaster Relief.


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