U.S. flag flown at Capitol in memory of Butte Fire

Katie Clark, left, and Danielle Ballard hold the United States flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 9 in memory of the Butte Fire, which started exactly one year earlier. 

Katie Clark was helping her parents to make an inventory of the items they lost when their Mountain Ranch home was destroyed by the Butte Fire when she realized the losses included her father’s U.S. flags.

“My dad is very serious about his flag and patriotism,” she said.

One of her father’s flags lost in the fire had flown over the U.S. Capitol.

“I wanted to replace it for him, although it wouldn’t be the same. I looked it up online and then thought, what if I did it on the anniversary? And hey – what if I got one for my home town and my county, too?”

Clark succeeded on both counts and the result of her work is now on display at the Calaveras County Museum.

In February, she ordered the flags and wrote the request for Calaveras County. Rep. Tom McClintock, the congressman who represents Calaveras County, honored her wishes, and by late September she was in possession of two of the flags that flew over the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 9, the anniversary of the start of the fire.

According to a statement issued by McClintock, the flags at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 9 were flown for “the County of Calaveras in memory of the Butte Fire, all that was lost and all we have found.” He also said the flags symbolize that “We will continue to persevere.”

The Butte Fire that started exactly one year earlier destroyed more than 550 homes in Calaveras County.

Clark now lives in Sacramento but has roots in Calaveras County. She is a 2006 graduate of Calaveras High School. She said she witnessed the loss of many of her childhood friends’ homes during the Butte Fire as well as her parents’ home.

Clark is an advocate for Butte Fire victims and the rebuilding effort.

In April, Clark organized the Butte Fire Flowers Volunteer Day, bringing together 200 volunteers from across Northern California and Calaveras County to plant native flowers on more than 30 properties in the Butte Fire burn scar.

Most recently, Clark organized a water drive in Sacramento, enlisting companies as drop sites for water to go to the “Butte Fire victims still in the burn zone.”

The flag donated to the Calaveras County Museum will be displayed during the museum’s month-long Road to Recovery exhibit created by Danielle Ballard. Ballard is the museum’s administrative assistant and exhibit specialist.

The exhibit opened on Thursday and will be on display through October. It follows the path of the fire from its ignition to current rebuilding efforts as well as the history of fires in Calaveras County.

The Calaveras County Museum is at 30 Main St, San Andreas. It is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

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