Devastating wildfires continue to threaten communities in Southern California and the American Red Cross is making sure those affected have a safe place to stay, food to eat and a shoulder to lean on. Critical fire weather conditions are expected to persist in the area into Wednesday due to excessively dry conditions and gusty winds. Despite increases in fire containment, more than 90,000 people still face evacuation orders across four counties; Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego. Burning 230,000 acres by itself, the Thomas Fire is now the fifth-largest blaze in California history – and by the end of December 10, it was only 10 percent contained. The Governor of California has declared a State of Emergency and a presidential declaration was announced on Friday, December 8.
There are five large fires currently burning - Creek, Rye, Skirball, Lilac 5 and Thomas. Liberty Fire has been contained.
Thomas Fire: 230,000 acres destroyed, 10% contained
Creek Fire: 15,000+, 95% contained
Rye Fire: 6,000+, 93% contained
Skirball Fire: 400+ acres, 85% contained
Lilac Fire: 4,100 acres, 80% contained
Liberty Fire: 300 acres, 100% contained
Impacts: (all numbers are approximate)
19,500 homes threatened
Over 1,100 homes destroyed or damaged
256,000+ acres burned, an area larger than New York City and Boston combined
Mandatory evacuations currently in effect for more than 90,000 residents
RED CROSS RESPONSE
The Red Cross is working alongside numerous partners to help people forced to leave their homes with little notice due to the dangerous wildfires.
A wildfire evacuee talks to Red Cross disaster volunteers inside a Red Cross shelter. Photo by: Dermot Tatlow/American Red Cross
Six shelters are open with a total overnight population of approximately 400 and with the help of partners, the Red Cross has already served more than 17,800 meals and snacks. About 650 Red Cross disaster workers are supporting these relief efforts. These staff members and volunteers are working to ensure that everyone – including those with access, mobility or other functional needs – get the best possible help during this challenging time.
Red Cross disaster workers are also providing health services such as replacing lost medications and eyeglasses, emotional support and spiritual care to people whose lives have been turned upside down by these wildfires. Nearly 1,800 contacts have already been made. As evacuation orders have been lifted in some areas, the Red Cross is distributing relief items including sifters, masks, trash bags and work gloves. Some 2,200 relief items have already been given out.
The Red Cross is working with partners to provide care for evacuated pets. We encourage anyone who needs a safe place to stay to come to an evacuation shelter, and suitable accommodations will be found for household pets. Service animals and therapy pets are welcome at Red Cross shelters.