Burned out: Headquarters gone, work remains

January 2023 Posted in Community, Pets

By Stephen Floyd

It took just three days for supporters of Silverton Cat Rescue to exceed a $40,000 fundraising goal after the facility suddenly burned down the evening of Jan. 7.

As of the afternoon of Jan. 10, a GoFundMe page set up by resident Katelyn McGill had generated $40,750 for rescue owner/operator Vivian Palm, whose adjacent home also was a total loss.

McGill, who has worked with Palm on animal rescue projects, said she was “floored” by how much was raised so fast. A new goal of $50,000 has been set, and McGill said donations will help Palm build the rescue back better than before.

“Vivian has impacted the lives of thousands in our community,” said McGill. “…She doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, just likes to get to work. And that’s what she’s done for years and years and years.”

Palm, her husband and two dogs escaped the blaze and eight cats survived as well, with two requiring hospital attention. An estimated 30 cats perished from the heat and smoke and the property was considered a total loss.

Palm told Our Town she and her family would never be able to repay her supporters, and was amazed that so much was raised so fast through GoFundMe.

“There are just so many people to thank and I wish I could list everybody but just know that you have forever touched our heart,” she said.

Palm also thanked Salem Emergency Clinic for caring for the injured cats, and Silver Falls Animal Clinic for their support in assessing and seeking help for injured cats. She also thanked first responders for their compassion and quick response, arriving within five minutes after the fire started.

The fire was reported around 5:30 p.m. Jan. 7 on the 600 block of Lone Oaks Loop. The Silverton Fire District said first responders found a large residence involved in heavy flames.

“An aggressive fire attack was conducted, however, due to the amount of fire and smoke, it took crews several hours to extinguish all of the hot spots,” said a press release from the district. “The house suffered considerable fire, smoke, and water damage.”

Units from Mt. Angel Fire District and Marion County Fire District #1 assisted local crews, with 32 firefighters and more than ten engines and tankers responding in total. An initial investigation revealed the fire was accidental and the case was likely “electrical related,” said the release.

In addition to a GoFundMe campaign, the Silverton Mayor’s Ball Committee awarded Palm a previously authorized $1,000 grant Jan. 9. Former Mayor Kyle Palmer said on Facebook he has known Palm professionally for more than a decade and watched her rescue efforts grow from assisting other groups to the development of her own, well-organized nonprofit.

“Losing 30 cats is beyond imaginable and my thoughts go out to Vivian and the rest of the volunteers who have suffered this loss,” he said.

Palm said, as she and rescue volunteers recover from this loss, they will continue to help with animal rescues and promote spay and neuter programs. She said they’re taking things “one day at a time” and will continue to engage with the community for support and to provide updates.

“I’m hoping the silver lining is that people will support small rescues such as Silverton Cat Rescue,” said Palm.

The fundraising campaign remains ongoing, and those who wish to offer support may do so at gofundme.com/f/vivian-palm-and-silverton-cat-rescue.

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