California Wildfires

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As many as 17 deadly wildfires are burning across California, including in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Nevada, Calaveras and Butte counties. The blazes, including the Tubbs Fire which is already the 12th most destructive wildfire on record in California, have already burned more than 110,000 acres and destroyed 1,100 homes. On Monday alone, the fast-moving fires burned an area the size of a football field every three seconds. That’s 20,000 acres scorched in as little as 12 hours.

About 45,000 people are under mandatory evacuation orders and as many as 33,000 homes are still threatened by the out-of-control fires. Several hospitals have been evacuated, thousands are without power and schools are closed. Wineries in the Napa Valley have also been affected, putting many people out of work.

Unfortunately, no rain is expected in the region for about the next week. The exceptionally dry weather and at times hurricane-strength winds in California could spark additional fires, and the existing fires may spread rapidly and unpredictably.

In response, the American Red Cross is working alongside partners to provide shelter, food and comfort for people forced to leave their homes with little notice. Red Cross disaster workers are supporting evacuation centers where people can find safe refuge. Additional supplies and volunteers are being mobilized now. Just last night, at least 2,200 people sought refuge from wildfires in 32 Red Cross and community shelters across the state.

The Red Cross is also providing meals, health services, comfort and other support for affected residents. As the fires continue to grow, thousands of additional cots, blankets, and emergency relief supplies are being mobilized now to support relief efforts. Volunteers from across the country are now traveling to California to support sheltering, feeding, logistics and planning efforts. The Red Cross is also working closely with government and community partners to coordinate relief efforts. Some of the partners we are working with include Children’s Disaster Services, the Salvation Army and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.

 FINDING SHELTERS

If you need the location of a shelter or other help, you should follow your local media or go to redcross.org and check the shelter map.

  • People can also find a shelter by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Emergency App also puts wildfire safety tips at your fingertips. The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
  • Anyone who plans to stay in a Red Cross shelter should bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, other comfort items and important documents. Don’t forget to bring any special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, or for family members who have unique needs.

STAY CONNECTED WITH LOVED ONES

 Visit the Red Cross Safe and Well website at http://www.redcross.org/safeandwell to reconnect with loved ones.

  • The site allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available, open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website. Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876.
  • You can also use the “I’m Safe” feature of the Red Cross Emergency App to let loved ones know your status.

WILDFIRE SAFETY STEPS

 The Red Cross urges everyone to follow evacuation orders from local law enforcement and has an emergency kit ready to go.

  • Listen to your local media for updates on the fire and be ready to leave quickly. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing your direction of escape.
  • Keep your pets in one room so you can find them quickly if you have to evacuate.
  • Arrange for a temporary place to stay outside the threatened area.
  • Keep your indoor air clean – close windows and doors to prevent the smoke outside from getting in your home.
  • Use the recycle mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. If you don’t have air conditioning and it’s too hot to be inside, seek shelter somewhere else.
  • If smoke levels are high, don’t use anything that burns and adds to air pollution inside such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves.

Don’t go home until fire officials say it is safe. Be cautious entering a burned area – hazards could still exist.

  • Avoid damaged or downed power lines, poles and wires.
  • Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.
  • Wet down debris to minimize breathing dust particles.
  • Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.
  • Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.

Recheck for smoke or sparks throughout your home for several hours after the fire, including in your attic. Wildfire winds can blow burning embers anywhere so check for embers that could cause a fire.

 

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