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How to help victims of wildfires

  • Firefighters all the way from Beverly Hills take a lunch break on their way to the Mendocino Complex Fire. Katherine Minkiewicz

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
August 3, 2018

With the bruises of the Sonoma County wildfires still tender after almost a year of recovery, wildfires once again rage throughout Northern California, this time in Mendocino, Lake and Shasta Counties and with containment far from 100 percent, fire victims need all the help they can get.

As of Tuesday morning the Carr Fire in Shasta County has swept through 110,154 acres, destroying over 800 homes in Redding and killing six people including two firefighters according to Cal Fire.

The deadly fire, which has been called an apocalyptic scene, has leveled neighborhoods and damaged at least 170 other structures.

With first responders working around the clock, containment is around 27 percent. According to accuweather.com, the inferno first erupted after a mechanical failure in a car on July 23. Experts are saying it is the seventh most destructive wildfire in California history.

Farther south in Mendocino County, the River and Ranch Fires merged together to form one behemoth wildfire. The two fires were dubbed the Mendocino Complex Fire, which has burned over 74,000 acres and has threatened around 12,000 residents, forcing about 19,000 to evacuate.

According to Cal Fire the Complex Fire is only eight percent contained and mandatory evacuation orders are still in place for the Potter Valley Community, all areas north of Highway 20, east to the Mendocino-Lake County line, south of Burris Lane to MeWhinney Creek, east of Potter Valley Road, the area of Pine Avenue and the Midmountain Road area.

“Firefighters continue to battle the River and Ranch Fires,” a media statement from Cal Fire says. “The fire burned actively throughout the night. Firefighters were also challenged by long distance spotting. Weather conditions will continue to challenge firefighters as hot, dry and windy conditions persist.”

The Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park has also proven to be a gargantuan struggle for firefighters as it has blazed through 57,000 acres, forcing the closure of Yosemite Valley on July 25.

With a plethora of wildfires consuming thousands of acres, how can locals here in Sonoma County and Rohnert Park help?

To help those impacted by the Carr Fire, there are number of ways people can donate.

GoFundMe has published a list of verified campaigns in support of families who have lost their homes in the fire. To view the list and donate, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/cause/carr-fire. GoFundMe has also partnered with Tri Counties Bank, establishing a general fund benefiting all of those affected throughout Shasta County.

The United Way of California established a Shasta County Fire Relief Fund. Those who want to donate can text “CARRFIRE” TO 91999 or visit: https://www.norcalunitedway.org/CARRfire.

The Salvation Army of Northern California has sent disaster response teams to various cities including, Auburn, Roseville, Eureka Redding and Santa Rosa. Donations made to the Salvation Army can help provide meals to evacuees. Visit: https://give-do.salvationarmy.org/give/194423/#!/donation/checkout to donate.

The Red Cross has also set up shelters for fire evacuees for both fires and is accepting donations via text. Those who text “REDCROSS” to 90999 will make a $10 donation.

In terms of helping animal evacuees, the Haven Humane Society is raising money on their Facebook page to help its efforts in housing animals. To donate, visit: https://www.facebook.com/HavenHumaneSociety/posts/10156488306664643.

To help those impacted by the Mendocino Complex Fire, people can also donate to a number of organizations.

The Community Foundation of Mendocino County is accepting donations. Visit: www.communityfund.org to donate.

North Coast Opportunities Inc., 2018 Wildfire Relief Fund in Lake County is also accepting donations. Visit: https://www.ncoinc.org/disaster-recovery to donate.

United Way of Northern California and the Red Cross links mentioned above are also collecting donations for victims of the Mendocino Complex Fire.

Despite slightly hazy, smoky skies around Sonoma County, there are no current evacuation warnings in Sonoma County according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, which also mentioned that the Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services is “keeping a close eye on the fire activity in the Northern part of California.”

With firefighter resources being stretched thin, firefighters from Culver City, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills were seen parked in the Rohnert Park Panera Bread parking lot Tuesday taking a lunch and awaiting apparatus repairs before heading to the front lines of the Mendocino Complex Fire.

Battalion Chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department, David Frelinger said he and his team were on assignment in Southern California and got redirected to come and help in Northern California.

“Once we get there we hope to be assigned to one of the divisions to help with anything they need us to help with,” Frelinger said. “We are a type one strike team and we are looking forward to going out there and help them the best we can.”

Frelinger and his team have been on the road for about 10 hours; however, the long trips and large battles with wildfire isn’t something new. When the Sonoma County wildfires hit last October his team was on the road to aid local agencies in containing the fire.

“We’ve been up here quite a bit, different parts all over here. It is just a continuous hotbed of fire activity,” Frelinger said.