Oso firefighters expect big turnout at this year’s salmon bake

OSO — Firefighters here are preparing to cook dinner for about 300 people Saturday, more than double the usual turnout at their annual salmon bake.

The dinner and auction event at the Oso Fire Station has been a major fundraiser for more than a decade. It raises money for equipment the volunteer fire department normally couldn’t afford.

It also connects firefighters, friends and family, and that’s what matters most, Fire Chief Willy Harper said.

“This year is pretty much about getting together and thanking the people in the community who have helped us,” he said.

People rallied around the fire department and the rest of Oso after the March 22 mudslide that killed 43 people. Among the victims were Christina Jefferds, 45, and 4-month-old Sanoah Violet Huestis, the wife and granddaughter, respectively, of firefighter Seth Jefferds.

The slide buried a stretch of Highway 530 between Arlington and Darrington and wiped out homes.

Rescuers recovered all 43 victims after weeks of searching the muddy debris field. Kris Regelbrugge, the last victim, was found July 22.

Donated goods and funds buoyed firefighters and other rescuers during search and recovery efforts. Thanks to the donations, this year’s salmon bake costs less than past years, Harper said.

Along with dinner, the event includes live and silent auctions with items such as Seahawks gear, a rototiller, rafting trips and plane rides over the scenic Stillaguamish Valley.

“The adventure packages are to promote local businesses,” Harper said.

The salmon bake and auction generally draws up to 150 people and brings in several thousand dollars, Harper said. It’s a significant boost to the department’s $10,000 yearly budget for new equipment and maintenance.

They haven’t set a fundraising goal, but the turnout is likely going to dwarf past years, Harper said.

Parking is limited, and people might want to park at the Oso General Store and walk, Harper said.

Dinner starts at 4 p.m. and the live auction is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Oso Fire Station, 21824 Highway 530. The Oso Firefighters Association plans to charge $5 per plate. There are hamburgers available for people who don’t like salmon.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439, kbray@heraldnet.com.

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