The $42 million Dakota Plains Federal Credit Union in Lemmon, N.D., has established a relief fund for residents of Bucyrus, a tiny town that was nearly destroyed by wildfire Oct. 17.
Though no one was hurt in the disaster, strong winds fueled the fire that scorched nine square miles and obliterated 24 structures, including four homes, two vacant farms and a picture framing business, according to local and state media reports. Bucyrus, with a population of about 30, is located in the southwest corner of North Dakota.
“The homes that were affected were burned down to the foundations,” said Dakota Plains CEO/President Peter Butterfield, who traveled to the town the day after the disaster. “There is a little church that they managed to save and there were a couple of houses left standing.”
Residents gathered at the church for a special prayer service on Sunday, according to media reports.
"The whole community has been so thoughtful, so helpful," Evelyn Krug told The Associated Press. Her home across the street from the church was destroyed. "They're all here for us; we all know they're all here for us," she said.
Butterfield said the credit union will be working with local and regional officials to help ensure relief funds are equitably distributed to meet the needs of fire victims.
If addition to the relief fund that Dakota Plains FCU opened on Friday, the credit union also has set aside $50,000 in low-interest loans to aid those affected by the disaster.
The cause of the wildfire has not been determined, the AP reported Monday.