REAL HERO: Local Man Drops Everything and Travels to Help in Aft - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

REAL HERO: Local Man Drops Everything and Travels to Help in Aftermath of Carlton Complex Fire

Posted: Updated:

BREWSTER, WA. -- Months after the Carlton Complex Fire devastated the area, you can still see a lot of the debris is still left behind.


Days after the Carlton Complex Fire swept through this area, homeowners were devastated, they were in shock picking up the ashes from their homes. That's when Brad Rew and his church group from the Tri-Cities came up to this area and tried to help out and do what they could.


The Carlton Complex Fire burned more than 300 homes and 200,000 acres last summer in the largest fire in state history. Watching the images of the fire play out on our television, shocked us all. For people like Brad Rew, it was those images that pushed him to act. 


"I felt like, I need to do something," Rew said. 


Brad runs a local construction company. In a matter of days, he organized a caravan of more than 30 people, including several employees, to travel over 3 hours and lend a helping hand in this neighborhood in Brewster.


But the images on the news didn't prepare Brad for what he would find in person.


"It was a disaster," Rew said. "They were staying in their cars, staying in tents, staying with maybe family or friends, and you know, it was just pure devastation."


Starting work at 4:30 on a Saturday morning, Brad and his crew worked tirelessly for more than 14 hours. Using shovels, axes and even a bobcat loading machine to help people sift through the ashes. 


"This isn't about coming and collecting a paycheck," Rew said. "You're not getting paid. This is simply about helping somebody out that's in desperate need, and so the work ethic is just something that you just never see. It's just amazing to see what people can do, you know just hands."


Even though it's been more than 200 days since Brad and his crew came to help. Neighbors here like Sylvester Johnson, who lost everything, have not forgotten their work. 


"Just overnight, well it's gone," Johnson said. "It's hard to believe you know? You wake up and everything's gone. 350 homes being burned out, and you have people in almost immediately helping. It was a good feeling."


"When stuff like this happens," Jaci Lin, who lost her shed in the fire, said. "You'd be surprised the people who help, and bless them all. And bless them. You couldn't ask for a better bunch of people."

This is Brad's first time back to the place he tried so hard to help. Unfortunately, the property his crew helped clean the most still sits empty. 


"Well obviously I was hoping to see a brand new house right there," Rew said. "And so that's kind of sad. It hasn't been taken care of yet, here we are six, seven months down the road. These people are still dealing with this issue unfortunately."


Not much has changed on this property since Brad saw it last. But he knows his group at the very least helped make one bad day a little bit better for this small neighborhood. 


"It's definitely something that I won't forget," Rew said. "If you're going to do stuff in this life, those are the things that last forever. And if you're religious at all, those are the things that last even beyond that. And so experiences like that, I think you want to do as much as you can."


For his actions that day in Brewster, Washington, helping those in the greatest of need, Brad Rew and Gale-Rew Construction is honored with the Community Organization Real Hero Award. 


If you want to help out these fire survivors in their continuing recovery, go to http://occac.com/ and click on the "Give Back" tab. 


HD DOPPLER 6i
/