The American Red Cross is responding across several states as large wildfires continue to threaten thousands of residents in California, Washington, Montana and Nevada. Many people in the region are under mandatory evacuation orders and Red Cross workers are providing shelter and food for those in the path of the fires.
In Butte County, California, the Wall Fire near Oroville has already burned about 5,600 acres and damaged or destroyed more than 20 homes. As many as 5,400 homes are threatened. Mandatory evacuations are in effect and the Red Cross has a shelter open where 128 people spent Sunday night.
Several wildfires are burning in central California in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. The Red Cross has three shelters open where 33 people spent Sunday night. Red Cross workers are also providing food and will be providing relief supplies and working with affected residents on other services as needed.
In western Montana, lightning strikes caused several fires Sunday and the Red Cross will respond as needed. In Phillips County, MT, a wildfire has already charred more than 10,500 acres. In Sanders County, MT, a wildfire there may prompt evacuation orders. The Red Cross is monitoring the situation and will provide assistance as needed.
A wildfire in Yakima County, Washington, forced residents to evacuate 75 homes and Red Cross workers opened a shelter for those affected. In Washoe County, Nevada, a new wildfire threatened several homes, forcing residents to leave their homes. The Red Cross opened an evacuation center and is prepared to offer other assistance as needed.
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the nation’s support center for wildfire firefighting,
reports emergency personnel are battling 232 new fires, affecting more than 93,700 acres. So far this year there have more than 32,700 wildfires, burning more than 3,472 acres. Millions of homes across the country are near woodlands and could someday be in the path of a wildfire. The Red Cross offers tips on what to do before, during and after a wildfire so you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.
WILDFIRE SAFETY STEPS
BEFORE A FIRE OCCURS Remove anything that can catch fire from around your home, garage and outdoor shed, including firewood and propane tanks. If it’s flammable, keep it away from your house, deck or porch. Obey outside burning bans when issued. Other things you can do to be prepared include:Keep your gutters and roofs clean. Remove dead vegetation and shrubbery from your yard. Keep your lawn hydrated.Select building materials and plants that resist fire.Make sure driveway entrances and your house number or address are clearly marked.Set aside items that can be used as fire tools – a rake, axe, hand or chain saw, bucket and shovel. Identify and maintain a good water source outside your home. Examples include a small pond, well or swimming pool.
IF A FIRE OCCURS Listen to your local media for updates on the fire and be ready to leave quickly. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing your direction of escape. You should also:Keep your pets in one room so you can find them quickly if you have to evacuate.Arrange for a temporary place to stay outside the threatened area.Keep your indoor air clean – close windows and doors to prevent the smoke outside from getting in your home.Use the recycle mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. If you don’t have air conditioning and it’s too hot to be inside, seek shelter somewhere else.If smoke levels are high, don’t use anything that burns and adds to air pollution inside such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves.
AFTER THE FIRE Don’t go home until fire officials say it is safe. Be cautious entering a burned area – hazards could still exist. Avoid damaged or downed power lines, poles and wires. Other things to do include:Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.Wet down debris to minimize breathing dust particles.Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.Recheck for smoke or sparks throughout your home for several hours after the fire, including in your attic. Wildfire winds can blow burning embers anywhere so check for embers that could cause a fire.
DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information on wildfires and other disasters in your hand. You can also use the app to set more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.