Two new fast-moving wildfires in southern California have forced almost 100,000 people to leave their homes and the American Red Cross is supporting those affected while continuing to help thousands of people impacted by the earlier wildfires which burned across several western states.
Red Cross disaster workers provided more than 150 people with safe refuge from the fires Monday night in emergency lodgings, including shelters and, in some cases, hotels. The new blazes, the Silverado and Blue Ridge Fires, are both in Orange County in California, impacting the cities of Irvine, Yorba Linda, Hidden Hills and Chino Hills, all south of Los Angeles. In addition, more than 223,000 customers are without power, electricity shut off to prevent sparks starting new fires.
The threat isn’t over. Critical and elevated fire conditions will remain across the southwest throughout the week. In this extremely busy wildfire season, the National Interagency Fire Center reports the country has seen almost 47,000 wildfires which have charred more than 8.5 million acres. In California alone, there have been more than 8,800 fires which have burned more than 4.1 million acres.
RED CROSS WILDFIRE RESPONSE In addition to these new fires, more than 5,200 people out west remain in emergency lodging in California, Oregon and Colorado, forced from their homes by the earlier wildfires which have destroyed thousands of homes and other buildings. Helping for weeks, the Red Cross and partners have provided more than 358,900 total overnight stays in emergency lodgings, served more than 885,100 meals and snacks, distributed 47,000 relief items and provided 54,600 individual care contacts.
The Red Cross is also providing financial assistance for California, Washington and Oregon households whose primary residence was destroyed or sustained major damage from the recent wildfires. Some 2,600 households have already received Red Cross emergency financial assistance to help them replace essential items and begin to recover.
Every disaster is different and so are the needs of each affected community and family. The Red Cross works closely with local partners to create plans and coordinate recovery services to ensure people get the assistance that they need to get back on their feet.
YOU CAN HELP by making a donation or becoming a Red Cross volunteer.
Help people affected by the western wildfires by visiting redcross.org, calling 800-RED CROSS or texting the words WILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.
Want to help people specifically affected by the California, Oregon or Washington wildfires? Write “California Wildfires,” or “Oregon Wildfires” in the memo line of a check and mail it to your local Red Cross chapter with the completed donation form. For California Wildfires you can also text the word CAWILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
If you have the time, you can make a significant impact as a Red Cross volunteer. Review our most urgently needed volunteer positions at redcross.org/volunteertoday. More information is available here.
When possible, the Red Cross partners with organizations that manage donations of goods as part of their primary mission. In all cases, due to health code regulations, the Red Cross cannot accept donations of homecooked meals or food items not prepared in a commercial kitchen.
Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and obey all evacuation orders from officials.
If you’re trapped outdoors, crouch in a pond, river or pool.
Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke.
After a wildfire:
- Don’t return home until officials say it’s safe to do so.
- Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
- Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires.
- Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety — warn family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits also.
- Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.
- Wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
- Wear work gloves and heavy soled shoes to protect hands and feet.
COVID-19 has not changed the Red Cross mission, and we are still providing the same types of support as we have previously. To help keep people safe, we are following guidance from CDC and public health authorities — and have put in place additional precautions. Some of these plans include social distancing protocols, face coverings and health screenings. Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community depending on local emergency operations plans.