A fundraiser hosted by the Tuolumne County Museum and Historical Society this week brought in $4,086 for Laurelin and Jim Lewis, owners of the historic Dardanelle Resort that sustained significant damage in the devastating Donnell Fire in early August.

Billie Lyons with the Historical Society said her husband counted 115 people at the event, which was held Thursday evening, outside in the museum courtyard at Bradford Street and Lower Sunset Drive.

Musicians at the fundraiser included Sonora residents Gary Linehan and Sean Brennan playing the music of Bob Dylan and other artists, and Matt Thorup, who wrote a song, “Lucky Number Seven,” about his family’s cabin about a mile west of Dardanelle. Thorup has pledged to donate proceeds from downloads of the song to help cabin people and other families rebuild whatever they lost in the Donnell Fire.

Lyons said she was especially grateful to Chris Sullivan and one of his co-workers at T-Mobile on Sanguinetti Road. Sullivan and T-Mobile donated two $800 phones, each with six months free service, worth about $2,000 altogether, for a raffle they organized.

“Chris got everything,” Lyons said. “He got new tools and tool boxes from a local hardware store, and a wine basket worth over $100 from Gianelli Vineyards in Jamestown. Chris and his co-worker were amazing. They did everything.”

Other gifts that were raffled or auctioned included a handmade quilt, a tapestry bag full of scarves and knick knacks from Funky Junk, and a door from a 1934 truck with “Sonora Refuse Service, Phone 513 Sonora, Rotelli” painted on the exterior, donated by Stefan Nisser.

Sullivan and T-Mobile also donated a $500 gift card for the Lewis family, Lyons said.

“We are so incredibly humbled and grateful to Billie K. Lyons and T-mobile and the local businesses who have chosen to donate,” Laurelin and Jim Lewis posted on social media before the fundraiser. “We have been focusing all efforts on the clean up and rebuild and are excited to help create many new memories there.”

The Donnell Fire was reported Aug. 1 near where the Middle Fork Stanislaus River flows into Donnell Reservoir. It blew up the weekend of Aug. 4-5 and by the morning of Aug. 6, the Dardanelle Resort main lodge, dating to 1923, lay in ashes along with scores of cabins and other structures that go back generations.

The last available Donnell Fire update as of Friday afternoon was dated Sept. 12. At that time, the burn was estimated to be 36,540 acres, which equates to 56.9 square miles, and it was estimated to be 90 percent contained. Nine injuries were reported and 135 structures, including 54 cabins, residences and commercial structures, were destroyed. Hot spots in the burn could be seen smoking earlier this week from Highway 108.

No information has been disclosed about the cause of the blaze, other than fire command staff and Stanislaus National Forest staff denying claims from some concerned residents and property owners that it started out as a controlled burn.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.





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