Wildfires are burning in California, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes. The American Red Cross has shelters open and is providing food and water for those affected.
The two largest fires in Ventura and Riverside counties have burned almost 13,000 acres and strong winds, dry conditions and warm temperatures are expected to continue, feeding the flames. The fire in Ventura County is barely contained, threatening as many as 4,000 homes. Mandatory evacuations are in effect. Firefighters in Riverside County have the fire 65 percent contained and evacuation orders are lifted there.
“We urge everyone to follow the advice of their local officials and evacuate immediately if told to do so,” said Ava Voss, emergency services manager, Red Cross of Ventura County. Evacuation centers are open where people can get updates about the fires as well as snacks and beverages. Additional shelters are on standby in case they are needed.
IF YOU ARE EVACUATING Anyone evacuating to a Red Cross shelter should bring essential items for each member of the family:
WILDFIRE SAFETY If a fire is threatening your neighborhood, you should listen to local media for updated fire information and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Other steps include:
MORE FIRES POSSIBLE IN MAY The National Interagency Fire Center’s Predictive Services reports there will be a significant potential for wildfires this month in Oregon, California, Arizona and Virginia. Severe drought conditions in the west raise the possibility for severe early season fire activity continuing into the summer.
DOWNLOAD WILDFIRE APP Another thing people should do is download the free Red Cross Wildfire App, available in English or Spanish. The app puts help right in people’s hands, such as real time alerts and Red Cross shelter locations, as well as instant access to steps people should take before, during and after wildfires. Owners of Apple and Android devices can download the free app in the in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. The app also features personalized local information and an “I’m Safe” feature to help people connect with loved ones if they need to evacuate.
HOW TO HELP In addition to this fire, Red Cross disaster workers have responded to several large disasters in the last several weeks, including the explosions in Massachusetts and Texas and the flooding across the Midwest. If someone would like to help people affected by disasters like these, they can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief at www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.