The American Red Cross is helping people in California and Oregon where devastating wildfires continue to burn, forcing thousands from their homes. With the threat of wildfires not slowing down, the Red Cross is ready to expand relief efforts if needed.
In Oregon, multiple large fires are burning, including the Cedar Creek Fire east of Eugene, which grew to more than 92,000 acres and is completely uncontained. The Oregon fires have forced nearly 1,500 people from their homes. In northern California, the Mosquito Fire has scorched more than 63,000 acres and is only 20% contained. More than 11,200 people have had to leave their neighborhoods. Wildfires have already consumed more than 6.7 million acres across the country so far this year.
It is critical that those in the path of wildfires listen to the advice of local authorities and evacuate immediately if asked to do so. For those who have already evacuated, don’t return home until officials say it is safe to do so.
YOU CAN HELP people affected by disasters like fires and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift is a commitment to helping people in need, and every single donation matters. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
For those interested in helping people specifically affected by any of the recent fires, we ask that they write “western wildfires” in the memo line of a check and mail it to their local Red Cross chapter with a completed donation form to the address on the form or to their local Red Cross chapter. Find the donation form at redcross.org/donate.
The Red Cross will not accept donations of clothing, blankets or household items, as these types of donations divert resources away from our mission and we are unable to process and distribute them. Financial donations are the quickest and best way to support people impacted by disaster: your financial donation to the Red Cross helps provide shelter, meals, relief supplies, comfort, and other assistance during disasters.
FIND A SHELTER To find an open shelter, go to the nearest temporary evacuation point, visit redcross.org or view open shelters through the Red Cross Emergency app. If you don’t have access to a computer or smart phone, call 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) to be connected to your local chapter. Alternatively, try calling 211, if this service is available in your area, or your local emergency management office.
Our shelter workers will do all they can to accommodate service animals and domesticated pets comfortably. If you go to a shelter, please bring your own animal crate, supplies, medications and food whenever possible. Depending on the situation, pets may need to be housed in a different location with support from animal welfare groups.
RED CROSS RESPONSE Working with our partners, Red Cross disaster workers are helping evacuees find a safe place to stay, food to eat and emotional support during this challenging time.
Wednesday night as many as 240 people across California and Oregon sought refuge from the fires in Red Cross shelters. In response to wildfires across the west, more than 1,100 trained Red Cross responders have worked with partners since April to provide some 16,700 overnight stays in emergency shelters, nearly 36,000 meals and snacks, and thousands of relief supplies to more than 2,400 households.
Some evacuees have chosen to stay in RVs, cars or tents. Anyone who has been affected by the fires is welcome to stop by a shelter to get a hot meal and access other resources.
The Red Cross is also helping replace prescription medications, eyeglasses or critical medical equipment, like canes and wheelchairs, which were left behind in the rush to get to safety.
SMOKE AS FAR EAST AS COAST Hazardous air quality alerts are in effect for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada and California. Smoke from the fires has blown all the way to the East Coast. Wildfire smoke is a mixture of air pollutants that are harmful to your health.
- When wildfires create smoky conditions it’s important for everyone to lessen their exposure to smoke which can irritate your eyes, nose, throat and lungs, making it hard to breathe and causing coughing and wheezing.
- Keep smoke outside. Choose a room you can close off from outside air. Set up a portable air cleaner or filter to keep air clean in the room.
- Avoid using candles, gas, propane, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, or aerosol sprays and don’t fry or broil meat, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum.
- Children, women who are pregnant and people with asthma, chronic pulmonary disease or heart disease need to be especially careful about breathing smoke from a wildfire. Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to wear a respirator.
- If you have a central air conditioning system, use high efficiency filters to capture fine particles from smoke. If your system has a fresh air intake, set the system to recirculate mode or close the outdoor intake damper.
A wildfire can spread very quickly, leaving you little time to get to safety.
- Back your car into the garage or park it outside, facing the direction of your evacuation route.
- Keep your pets in one room, so you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
- Limit exposure to smoke and dust. Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
- Do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces, and gas stoves.
If you are trapped outdoors, crouch in a pond, river, or pool. If there is no body of water, look for shelter in a cleared area or among a bed of rocks. Lie flat, face-down and cover your body with soil. Breathe the air close to the ground to avoid scorching your lungs or inhaling smoke.
Download the Red Cross Emergency app for real-time alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and expert advice on wildfires. The app includes an “I’m Safe” feature that help people check on loved ones. Search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to redcross.org/apps.