Even if you don’t live in Southern California, you’ve probably heard on the news that we have multiple fires happening right now. While wildfires are something that we get from time to time, this time it seems different. Having multiple fires at one time isn’t the norm. But also they seem to be surrounding us.
There is a combination of things that are happening that make things worse. We had a good rain season this past winter so there is more plant life around than there was when the drought was at its worst. But since our summer was hotter than normal the plants all died which left dried plants everywhere to catch on fire. The humidity in the air is lower than normal so the fire risk is higher. And we currently have the Santa Ana winds which are very strong and are blowing the fires and embers into new areas. All of that combined means that the fires are big, tough to fight, and keep moving.
There is a fire up in Ventura County near where my brother and sister-in-law live. My brother was working at his hospital the first day of the fire and things were getting pretty bad then. He hasn’t worked since that day, but the fire continues to get worse and more out of control. Their home should hopefully be fine, but it’s still scary to see the fires getting closer to them.
I have a lot of friends in the valley who are on evacuation watch. Hopefully those fires won’t get into their neighborhoods, but even without there being a fire it is still difficult to breathe. The smoke is pretty thick and the wind doesn’t seem to be clearing it. The smoke and wind are the problems that I’ve been encountering. There is a fire near my gym and that smoke has come over to me. I’ve been trying to stay inside but since my house doesn’t have the best insulation it smelled smokey inside my house.
And I’ve had some family that was evacuated because the fires are in their neighborhood. We are all very hopeful that their house will be fine. There was a fire in that neighborhood about 70 years ago and their house was still standing because it was built out of stucco and not wood. We don’t know when they will be able to go back home to check on their house, but I hope that it is soon so we can find out what their next step is. And we all just want all of the fires to be out so more homes aren’t lost.
But the sad reality of these fires is that there has been loss of property, animals, and some people. And help will be needed because not everyone will be able to rebuild on their own. I read one news story about a family that just closed on the purchase of their house last week and it burned down this week. Hopefully they had some sort of insurance, but insurance doesn’t always cover everything.
There are a couple of ways to help. If you live near an affected area, there may be volunteer opportunities but it seems like a lot of those are filling up quickly. I’ve seen people who are buying bottled water and leaving them near where the firetrucks are so that the firemen fighting the fires have water. But with many disasters the best way to help is with money. Organizations that are set up to help with disaster relief need funds and they will know where to put that money toward.
The Salvation Army is a good place to donate. They’ve been setting up shelters around Southern California and many people in the shelters have no idea when they can go home or if they will even have a home to go back to. And there are so many animals that have needed to be evacuated. Many of these are larger animals like horses that need to be transported to a safe area and that is not cheap. So the Humane Society is accepting donations to help animals affected by the fire. There is also the Southern California Wildfire Relief page through the California Community Foundation. That page has a lot of different places that are providing help and offering information to those looking to find out what is going on.
I don’t know how much longer the fires will be burning, but the relief efforts are going to take a while. There is no quick way to rebuild someone’s life after a fire has taken everything. If you have the ability to donate, please do. I know that is what I will be doing it when I figure out how much extra money I have in my budget this month. I know that there have been so many natural disasters lately and it can seem overwhelming. But hopefully the links that I’ve provided can help you find where to donate so that you can help those affected by the fires happening all around Southern California.