Prototype modular home goes to couple who lost home in Otis wildfire

Prototype modular home goes to couple who lost home in Otis wildfire

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) – The Echo Mountain Fire devastated Otis, a small unincorporated town just inland from the coast in Lincoln County in September 2020, damaging nearly 300 homes. Scott and Barb Benedict’s home was among those.

“The Echo Mountain wildfire came over the hill and we were evacuated. And we couldn’t go back for three weeks, and there was nothing to go back to,” Scott Benedict said.

KGW met the couple on Friday at the unveiling of prototype modular homes in a warehouse at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 2.

It is an effort led by Hacienda Community Development Corp. which is a non-profit organization specializing in affordable housing.

The homes are made in part with Oregon-grown and manufactured pulpwood, a strong laminate that makes up the floors and walls.

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek praised the project. The governor said she sees these units as part of the solution to the homeless and housing crisis, and as a way to help families affected by disaster.

“We can build a house much faster in this modular prototype to keep people in the community and let them rehouse on the land that was already housing in the first place,” Kotek said.

That’s where Barb and Scott come in; one of the prototypes is donated to them.

“Oh, so excited and oh my god, so grateful… it’s awesome, after 2 1/2 years in a 29 foot travel trailer we’re going to have so much room. It’s just great for us,” Barb said.

It’s been a long few years since the Otis fire that took so many of them.

“It was just everything that we had lost in our entire lives that we had accumulated in our 30 years of marriage, it was just gone. Completely gone, baby pictures, everything we had. It was just very devastating,” Barb said.

These prototypes go to people in different parts of the state through non-profit organizations in their area.

The Benedicts are doing better today, because of the hope they built in the warehouse.

“We have so much to look forward to now, and it makes you feel like you can move on to something that’s comfortable,” Barb said.

The Benedicts and other recipients should deliver their homes and place them on foundations in June.

Developers will monitor the prototypes for the next year to see how they fare in different climates around the state, and to see how recipients like the layouts and features. Then they will adjust as needed before going into mass production of the houses. It is unclear at this stage what the cost for the houses will be.

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