Following a horrific fire that leveled 18 to 21 homes on tribal land in south-central Washington, dairy farmers have donated $61,000 to the relief effort.

On Monday, dairy farmers presented the check to the Yakima Nation.

The fire occurred on Feb. 12. Two days later, dairy producer Bill Dolsen drove to the site at White Swan, Wash.

“It brings tears to your eyes,” he says. “Fires are horrible, but when you see it in a residential community…  It’s tough to see.”

The houses were completely burned down, leaving only the concrete foundations and ductwork from furnaces. Everything else was a loss, including automobiles. More than 100 people were left homeless.

The next day, Dolsen was at a “kitchen meeting” of Darigold Cooperative members when he told the others, “You want to keep the folks in White Swan in your prayers." Before he could get out the next sentence — about providing assistance — he had nine to 10 other producers asking what they could do to help.

About 20 dairy farmers in the Yakima Valley raised $61,000 from selling cull cows.

To Dolsen’s knowledge, it is the largest cash contribution that has been raised so far in the relief effort.

“The support (in the community) has been overwhelming,” he said.  “Churches have done a lot of things.”

Darigold Cooperative reportedly has contributed 400 pounds of cheese, 390 pounds of butter, and 1,000 bottles of milk to the relief effort.