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The Red Cross Helps As Wildfires Threaten Thousands

A Red Cross volunteer and a firefighter talk while wildfires burn in the distance.
Many people were completely unprepared for evacuation. Some of the children are quite alarmed.

The American Red Cross is helping people impacted by the wildfires out west. Numerous fires are burning across several states and today red flag warnings are in effect for portions of Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will occur shortly.

RED CROSS RESPONSE The Rim Fire in California has burned more than 143,000 acres and is only seven percent contained. The fire has already claimed 11 homes and residents of another 6,000 homes have been advised to evacuate. Red Cross workers have shelters open and almost 100 people spent Sunday night in the shelters after being forced out of their homes by the fire.

As firefighters continue to battle to contain the fire in Tuolumne County, there is still a danger and many communities remain under evacuation advisories. The Red Cross stands ready to receive residents should they choose to leave their homes and is prepared to open additional shelters should the need arise. There are disaster workers, relief supplies and other resources prepared to ensure the needs of evacuees are met.

WILDFIRE SAFETY If wildfires are possible in someone’s community, they should listen to local officials and be ready to evacuate quickly. Safety steps include the following:

  • Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
  • Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
  • Confine pets to one room so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
  • Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke.
  • Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. If you do not have air conditioning and it is too hot to stay inside with closed windows, seek shelter elsewhere.
  • When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves. Do not vacuum because it stirs up particles that are already inside your home.
  • If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your health care provider's advice and seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.
  • Pack an emergency disaster kit now including water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications, sanitation and personal hygiene items, important papers and cell phones and chargers, extra cash and maps of the area. People can also download the free Red Cross Wildfire App to get the latest fire news from local, state and federal agencies as well as access to preloaded information about what to do before, during and after a wildfire. The app is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. More information is available on this web site.

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.