In the fall of 2018, the horrific Camp Fire devastated the small Northern California town of Paradise and nearby communities, including Concow, Pulga and Magalia. The deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history, this fast-moving firestorm traveled 17 miles in less than 12 hours on November 8, taking 85 lives and reducing thousands of homes to ash and cinders.
In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire ignited on the same day, killing three people and forcing more than 295,000 residents from their homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Thousands more people were afflicted by multiple blazes over the preceding summer, including the Carr Fire in Shasta and Trinity Counties and the vast Mendocino Complex Fire.
Bringing hope in the face of relentless destruction, American Red Cross volunteers and employees joined local partners to deliver relief and comfort to wildfire survivors, many of whom had lost nearly everything. They helped open and staff shelters, offering refuge tor tens of thousands who evacuated ahead of advancing flames, and provided warm meals, relief items and cleanup supplies—as well as sorely needed emotional support and spiritual care for heartbroken residents and the families of fire victims.
Powered by the generosity of our donors, we also provided immediate financial assistance to thousands of severely impacted survivors in the weeks after the fires struck. This timely aid helped them pay for urgent needs, such as clothing, utilities, groceries and more.
For more than a year, the Red Cross has continued to offer compassionate care and critical resources for individuals and families affected by the 2018 California wildfires. Following the wrenching loss of their tight- knit communities, hundreds of displaced Butte County residents found temporary homes at Red Cross and community shelters, remaining for months as they sought scarce housing in nearby towns. Through these dark days and weeks, we continued to provide meals, personal care items and other necessities for these fire-weary survivors.
Our work doesn’t end when the fires are contained and the smoke clears. Recovering from disasters of this magnitude takes time, and the Red Cross has worked alongside a wide range of partners, including government agencies, non-profit groups, faith-based organizations, area businesses and others, to coordinate relief and recovery efforts for people with unmet needs.
In the year since the 2018 wildfires upended the lives of thousands of people, we have continued to stand with the survivors, providing financial assistance to help the most severely affected residents get back on their feet and supporting the vital recovery work of partners with specialized expertise through community grants.