August 26, 2020 by Savannah Walsh
Wildfires rage on in California, engulfing over 1 million acres during the past week with no clear end in sight. More than 250,000 people in Northern California have been evacuated from their homes and seven people have died as a result of the blazes, per The Associated Press. Cal Fire officials have attributed the state’s 585 fires over the past week to lightning strikes, dry terrain, and a recent heatwave.
Two of those fires—at Bay Area and Central Valley’s LNU Lightning Complex and east of San Jose’s SCU Lightning Complex Fire—now rank as California’s second and third-largest recorded wildfires, The Guardian reports. “We simply haven’t seen anything like this in many, many years,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared over the weekend. Wildfires in the state have caused more fatalities and destruction this year than all of 2019. Last year, wildfires reportedly ravaged 260,000 acres and killed three people.
13,000 firefighters have been dispatched to the area, some on 24-hour shifts, according to CNN. But Cal Fire has warned that number will not be enough to prevent fires from spreading. Part of the rescue shortage is owed to fewer prison inmates assisting, per CNN. The COVID-19 pandemic led to 600 fewer inmate firefighters than last year, Cal Fire notes. A Presidential Major Disaster Declaration has been issued, meaning federal aid is coming California’s way. But evacuees fear the coronavirus at local shelters and a lack of resources threatens more record-setting damages. (Track the wildfires here.) Your support is needed to help those devastated by the latest round of deadly wildfires in California.
Here’s how you can help:
- California Fire Foundation’s Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program, delivers immediate relief and provides $250 gift cards to eligible victims.
- The Napa Valley Community Foundation facilitates a long-term recovery mission in the most-impacted areas.
- United Way of Northern California gives emergency cash grants to those who have lost their homes.
- GoFundMe’s official California Wildfire Relief Fund will aid the communities most impacted by recent fires.
- Herd and Flock Animal Sanctuary was forced to relocate its animals and will need help homing pets and re-building the business.
- The Food Bank for Monterey County is not accepting food or other supplies due to COVID-19, but receives monetary donations. (Here’s list of other food banks in the state.)
- The Red Cross seeks volunteers and donations to provide wildfire relief to those in the state.
- The Community Foundation Santa Cruz County’s Fire Response Fund helps those impacted by the lightning complex fires.
- The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s California Wildfires Recovery Fund assists both short-term and long-term recovery efforts in the area.
- The Salvation Army provides relief following the current California wildfires and prepares for future natural disasters.
As always, speak up about climate change.
California’s latest influx of fires showcases how climate change has dangerously escalated natural disasters. Contact your representatives to enact policy reform when it comes to addressing this dire issue and its impact on our planet.