Custom home company donates home to survivors of Santiam Canyon fires in Oregon

Lois Kane said she still pinches herself. It’s hard to believe someone gave her a new home

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In 1985, Lois Kane and her husband bought a quiet home at the end of a cul-de-sac in Lyon. They raised their children there and for some of his grandchildren, it is the only home they have ever known.

Never in his wildest dreams would Kane have thought that his home, and the decades of memories it contained, would ignite in a forest fire.

Even when the Labor Day 2020 fires forced Kane and the four generations of her family members she lived with to evacuate, she thought everything would be fine.

“The night of the fire, I just took my cat and the clothes on my back because I thought we’d be back in a few hours,” she said.

This was not the case.

Shortly after being evacuated, the family learned that their house was no longer standing.

“I cried for two or three days,” Kane said. “I mean I lost everything, photos, everything.”

The house was uninsured and Kane said she was not approved for a loan to buy a mobile home due to her age.

For almost two years, the six members of the family have lived in two bedrooms in the house of the parents of Kane’s daughter-in-law. It was cramped and chaotic, but the family managed to make it work.

They didn’t know what they were going to do about housing until July 2021, someone from Adair Homes contacted them to say they wanted to build them a house for free.

Kane was visiting his daughter in Utah when she heard the news.

“At first, I didn’t believe it. You don’t just get a house, but you start to understand that we’re going to get a new house,” she said.

Charles Wines, regional sales manager at Adair Homes, said it took only about a week after the Labor Day fires for company CEO Byron Van Kley to decide he wanted to do something to give back to families affected by the Santiam Canyon fires, the vacation farm fire east of Eugene, and the wildfires in southern Oregon.

Van Kley created what is called the Legacy Program and announced that the company would donate homes to three families who lost everything in these fires.

“It wasn’t just to build a house, it was to give hope and opportunity to people who didn’t really have any at the time,” Wines said.

Adair Homes, which is a custom home building company, worked with nonprofits and humanitarian organizations to identify families. This is how Wines met Kane.

“It really seemed like a hopeless situation,” Wines said. “It seemed like there weren’t many alternatives. So once we met Lois and told them about the situation, it was clear that they were going to be the family we wanted to build a home for.

Wines sat down with the Kane family to choose a home design that would work best for them. He said every step of the way he could see the weight lifted off Kane’s shoulders.

The experience of working with the Kanes and the two other families selected by the Legacy Program brought back memories for Wines, who lived through a house fire when she was 21 years old. He said losing his home to a fire is a deep trauma that leaves a lasting impact and it means a lot to give back to these people.

“If you’re able to offer someone hope at a time when they don’t have much, they don’t see much light at the end of the tunnel, if you can spark a moment of hope in him, then that means everything,” Wines said.

And for Kane and his family, the act of generosity meant everything.

“I keep pinching myself and it hurts, so I guess it’s real. I’m not dreaming,” Kane said.

She and her family members chose a one-story, four-bedroom home design. It’s something that will be accessible for Kane and give the big family more room to spread out.

The groundbreaking took place on Friday, and Adair Homes told the Kanes that their home would be completed about five months after the foundation was laid.

The Kanes hope to be able to move into their house around Christmas. Kane and his stepdaughter Monica Kane said the first thing they would do would be cook a big family dinner.

The Kanes said they deeply appreciate the generosity of Adair Homes and all the other organizations that have helped them over the past two years.

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