Timothy and Sharon Smith and their children, Ollie and Rosie, were presented with a tiny home to replace a trailer that they have been living in since losing their home during the Santiam Fire in Gates on Monday, January 18. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

When Timothy Smith walked into the Santiam Hospital’s Service Integration Team office in early January, he was hoping to come out with a generator to power the trailer on his Gates property.

Instead, his family was chosen to receive a new tiny home.

Smith’s home burned to the ground in the September wildfires and since restoring utilities he’s lived with his wife and two small children in a trailer on the property they’ve called home for three years.

When he met with Melissa Baurer, coordinator for the service integration team, she said he needed the generator and a laptop for work. Then, he brought up his living situation. Baurer saw he was trying to do everything himself.

She didn’t say anything at the time, but she thought his family would be a perfect fit for a home. The deadline to find a family for a tiny home, donated by Tiny Mountain Houses and International Housing through United Way, was the day he came in.

“It just fell into place,” Baurer said. “It was meant to be.”

Smith has lived in the Santiam Canyon for 15 years, lured by the tranquility and sounds of the Santiam River rushing by.

When his home was destroyed by the fire, he moved a trailer onto the property. Before he met with Baurer, he knew the trailer wouldn’t be a long-term fix. So, he applied for a duplex in Mill City, but couldn’t afford it.

“I went in for a generator and this all happened. I had no expectations of this happening,” Smith said.

Now the family will help design their new home, which should be complete in six to seven weeks.

At an event to celebrate the Smiths on Monday inside the old Truitt Bros. warehouse, Jordan Truitt said the kids lost some beloved items in the fire.

He handed a stuffed Dalmatian to Smith’s son, Ollie, and a costume from the Disney movie Frozen and scooter to Smith’s daughter, Rosie.  

Truitt said he hoped the Smith’s story would inspire more people in the community to ask for help.

As the family thanked the nonprofits and builders that will make their home a reality, Ollie Smith hugged the stuffed dog tightly.

Not one for publicity, Timothy Smith said he hopes that other families will hear his story and know there’s hope for them too.

Ollie Smith holds on to a stuffed dog given to him during a presentation giving his family a tiny house on Monday, January 18. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

WE GET SALEM THE FACTS. Covering your community with care and depth. Salem Reporter - fair, accurate, independent. Subscribe and support our essential local service.