WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 15 deadly wildfires are burning across California, threatening residents, homes and businesses. The American Red Cross is there working alongside partners to provide shelter, food and comfort for people forced to leave their homes.
Firefighters are battling blazes in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Nevada, Calaveras and Butte counties. In these first few days, the focus by first responders has been to save lives; containment efforts for the fires will follow. On Monday alone, the fast-moving fires burned an area the size of a football field every three seconds – as many as 20,000 acres scorched in as little as 12 hours. According to officials:
About 45,000 people are under mandatory evacuation orders
As many as 33,000 homes are threatened by the out-of-control fires
More than 110,000 acres have been burned
About 1,100 homes have already been destroyed
Wineries in the Napa Valley have been affected, putting many people out of work. Several hospitals have been evacuated, thousands are without power, and schools are closed. The Tubbs fire is already the 12th most destructive wildfire on record in California and it is still burning out of control. No rain is expected in the region for the coming week. The exceptionally dry weather and extreme winds could spark additional fires, or cause the existing fires to spread.
Alongside partners, Red Cross disaster workers are supporting evacuation centers where people can find safe refuge from the fires. Additional supplies and volunteers are being mobilized now. Overnight, at least 2,200 people sought refuge from wildfires in 32 Red Cross and community shelters across the state. The Red Cross is also providing meals, health services, comfort and other support for affected residents. Thousands of additional cots, blankets and emergency relief supplies are being mobilized now to support relief efforts. Volunteers from across the country are traveling to California to support sheltering, feeding, logistics and planning efforts. The Red Cross is also working closely with government and community partners to coordinate relief efforts. Some of the partners we are working with include Children's Disaster Services, The Salvation Army and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Tips for those who may need to evacuate:
Follow evacuation orders and listen to the advice of local officials. Be ready to leave at a moment's notice.
Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
Confine pets to one room or spot so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
Find shelter locations by following your local media or go to redcross.org/shelters to check the shelter map.
Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to put shelter locations and wildfire safety tips at your fingertips. The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
Bring prescription medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, other comfort items and important documents. Don't forget to bring any special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, or for family members who have unique needs.
Service animals and therapy pets are welcome at Red Cross shelters. The Red Cross is also working with partners to provide care for evacuated pets.
Everyone is welcome at Red Cross shelters. People do not need to be American citizens to receive our assistance. Our volunteers will work to ensure that everyone –including children, the elderly, and those with special needs – get the best possible help.
Visit the Red Cross Safe and Well website at http://www.redcross.org/safeandwell to reconnect with loved ones. The site allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available, open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website. Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876. You can also use the "I'm Safe" feature of the Red Cross Emergency App to let loved ones know your status.
How to Help: You can help people affected by disasters big and small, like the wildfires and countless other crises, by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. With regard to in-kind donations, the Red Cross is currently seeking community partners to help support the anticipated generous donations of clothing and other items.
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.