Father and son watch flames engulf family orchard

Charred fruit still hangs from branches on the Lynn Family Farm after wildfire swept through the area. September 14, 2020

By Mark Walker

Benjamin Lynn and son Ryder were forced off their family farm last week when wildfire flames jumped the Columbia River near Bridgeport, WA.

The conflagration from the more than 270,000-acre Pearl Fire tore through Douglas County, destroying over two dozen homes and outbuildings. 

Swept up in the blaze was the Lynn family farm that produces soft fruits such as peaches and apricots for Seattle farmers markets and community agricultural programs. 

Remains of the Lynn family farm near Bridgeport, WA. September 14, 2020

The Lynns were uninjured, but Benjamin and Ryder’s home was destroyed along with their clothes and other personal property. Damage and loss will total several hundred thousand dollars. 

Many of the family’s trees were burned, and the blaze wiped out an array of orchard equipment, farm mementos and personal vehicles. 

“It’s all been a blur since last week,” Benjamin Lynn said Tuesday. 

Ben and Ryder Lynn at the Red Cross shelter in Wenatchee, WA. September 16, 2020

It started with him and 12-year-old Ryder monitoring smoke that was increasingly coming their way. “After it jumped the (Columbia) river near Bridgeport, he said, “a deputy came by and told us it was getting bad and we had to evacuate.” 

The Lynns have been sheltered by the Red Cross in a Wenatchee motel since fleeing. 

Like dozens of Washingtonians who have lost homes and more in the wildfires, Lynn was coping with the devastation and an array of uncertainties. “I’m not sure where we’re going to end up,” he said.

Ryder has been strong despite losing gaming equipment and other electronics, his dad said. “I’m really proud of him.” 

The Red Cross is continuing to provide help to the Lynns and other families throughout the state, as crews begin to get the upper hand on several blazes. 

You can help people like Ben and Ryder who have been affected by the western wildfires by visiting redcross.org, calling 800-RED CROSS or texting the words WILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

American Red Cross Northwest Region

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