Red Cross Responds to Wildfires in California and Washington

A Red Cross volunteer and a firefighter talk while wildfires burn in the distance.
People living near the wildfires should stay informed about the situation and be ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice.

Across western parts of the country, multiple wildfires and extreme fire conditions continue. In California and Washington, the American Red Cross is providing affected residents a safe place to stay, food to eat and emotional comfort as wildfires threaten communities.

In northern California, fast-moving wildfires threatened homes, causing mandatory and voluntary evacuations that remain in effect for regions near Sacramento and in Mariposa County. Monday night, the Red Cross had one shelter open in El Dorado County with 13 people, providing meals, snacks and support to affected residents and first responders.

Red Cross workers continue to maintain situational awareness of wildfire activities and are following up with disaster victims to assist with ongoing needs.

In eastern Washington, wildfires have burned more than 300,000 acres and voluntary evacuations remain in effect. In response, Red Cross workers have two shelters open in the region, as well as two client service centers where people can meet with caseworkers and health and mental health specialists. Emergency response vehicles are also traveling throughout the area, delivering food and supplies to people in devastated communities.

The Red Cross is distributing items such as gloves, shovels, rakes, sunscreen, lip balm, and other clean-up supplies, to the affected communities. Red Cross workers remain in close coordination with Emergency Management teams to identify what additional help people may need.

Since the start of the Red Cross response, workers have provided more than 330 overnight shelter stays; nearly 26,500 meals and snacks and more than 830 health and mental health services in the community. More than 225 Red Cross disaster responders from throughout Washington and across the country have come to the area to support this disaster operation.

Back east, from the Ohio Valley to the Mid-Atlantic, severe storms produced damaging winds and large hail this past weekend that destroyed homes, damaged building and left thousands of residents without power on Sunday. In Tennessee, there were reports of four tornadoes and homes destroyed as a result in Claiborne County.

In response, the Red Cross opened a shelter and deployed disaster workers to reach out to those affected. The Red Cross is also working with Emergency Management to assist with additional needs in storm-battered communities.

For those threatened by severe storms, take a minute to review severe weather safety tips.

People living near the wildfires should stay informed about the situation and be ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice. Additional wildfire safety steps include:

  • Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
  • Be cautious driving in the area - winds can unexpectedly cause poor visibility on the roads.
  • Drivers should also watch for downed power lines and poles.
  • Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke. People with health conditions need to take extra precautions.
  • 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.
  • In addition, residents can also download the free Red Cross Wildfire App for preloaded content that lets users know what they should do before, during and after a wildfire. Another helpful app to download is the Red Cross First Aid app for information on hand about how to handle the most common first aid emergencies. Both apps are available for iPhone and Android devices.

    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.