By Lou Marzeles

Faith forged in fire: man takes comfort as his home is lost


December 5, 2018

Jaryd Cline

GONE IN MINUTES: Goldendale Fire Department personnel battle a blaze that moved with vicious speed last Thursday in the Goldendale mobile home park on Columbus Avenue. Brent Blackwell's mobile home was destroyed, and a neighboring home was badly damaged. Blackwell lost his home-and his dogs-in the fire, but he says the disaster only strengthened his faith.

"That smoke looks really close to my place," Brent Blackwell mused.

It was last Thursday afternoon, and Blackwell was delivering fire wood to an elderly person in Goldendale. It's one of a number of civic activities Blackwell is noted for around town. Heading back to his vehicle, he saw the thick column of smoke rising from town.

"But then it gut-wrenched me," he recalls of that fateful day. "It was my place-and my dogs were in there."

Blackwell raced back to his home in the mobile home park on Columbus Avenue south of High Street. By the time he arrived, a few minutes later, he discovered his home was wholly engulfed in flames and smoke. Only some 20 minutes after one of his puppies knocked something too close to his wood stove, his home-and his unfortunate puppies-were lost.

"That was the worst of it," Blackwell says, struggling to contain his emotion. "Thinking of my puppies. That was awful."

A neighboring home was also affected when it had to be quickly moved, without being able to remove its connections to power and water, to prevent the fire from spreading. Even then, the intense heat left it severely damaged.

Despite the loss of home and animals, Blackwell takes comfort from a wave of remarkable support from the community. "It's overwhelming," he says. "How do you tell so many people how much what they do means to you? I'm in awe and so grateful. I'm getting help from people I don't even know." Some in the community have given him clothing and temporary shelter.

Help is coming too from a GoFundMe account established for him. You can participate by visiting A goal of $1,000 has been set, and it's off to a good start.

Blackwell has also had his faith strengthened in the face of the fire. "It's my faith in the Lord that gets me through," he says. "Maybe this was a test. But my faith in the Lord is even stronger now."


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