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Fire Chief Evacuated Neighbors While Her Home Was Destroyed

When Christiana Plews left her home one fateful night, she had an ominous feeling she couldn’t shake. As she was leaving, she told her husband, “I think my worst nightmare is about to come true.” Plews is the Upper McKenzie Fire & Rescue Chief, and she’d been called to help fight fires about 30 miles away. But she knew the area was very, very dry, and she knew the weather forecast called for high winds--a recipe for wildfires.

“Be safe,” her husband told her. She could’ve said the very same to him; about five hours later, she ordered the evacuation of several surrounding towns, including her own. When she couldn’t reach her husband on his phone, she called one of her sons, instructing him to leave. “Get in your car and get out of there.” The fire that she’d left to fight hours earlier was way out of control, and was, in her words, “ripping down the valley.”

Plews and the other firefighters in her unit are all volunteers; while they battled the flames the best they could, all of their homes burned down. In the aftermath of the flames, many community members have rallied around the chief, helping to provide essential clothes, food, and supplies to replace what she’s lost.

Included among her admirers is actress Drew Barrymore, who gave her a check for $10,000. When Barrymore asked her how she remained so strong and steadfast, Plews had a ready response: “Somebody has to do it. Somebody has to lead and somebody has to help get the healing and rebuilding process started … I just have to do it for everyone else and hopefully we can all find our way.”

Possible Preaching Angles:

In a crisis, Christ followers have both the opportunity and the responsibility to demonstrate the love of Jesus through sacrificial acts of love and service.


Maxine Bernstein, “Upper McKenzie fire chief loses her two homes in Vida as she battled wildfires with her volunteer crew” OregonLive (9-14-20)

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