Firefighters work to defend homes from an approaching wildfire in Sonoma, California. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

How you can help California wildfire victims

Nation

Firefighters work to defend homes from an approaching wildfire in Sonoma, California. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Fierce winds that have fanned the flames of more than 14 wildfires raging through Northern California are beginning to die down this week. As of Monday, the fires had left 41 dead, 213,000 acres burned and 5,700 structures destroyed.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reported today that 11,000 firefighters are making headway against 15 fires in the region, down from more than 20 since the crisis began. Containment efforts are moving forward, with the Tubbs fire at 70 percent containment and Atlas at 68 percent.

The fires began more than a week ago, igniting simultaneously and spreading quickly over long distances aided by gusty winds and dry, abundant ground vegetation.

More than 40,000 people are still waiting to return home after being evacuated, according to Cal Fire. And many who have returned to their property face devastation. As fire containment levels increase, the enormous scope of the recovery efforts will become clearer. Here's how you can help:

Start here: Cal Fire continues to spearhead rescue efforts across the region. This web page is regularly updated to show where donation and volunteer aid is most needed.

Giving money is the most effective way to give to "ensure the right goods get to the right people at the right time following a disaster," Cal Fire says.

Give.

Volunteer. Cal Fire is still assessing the need for volunteers, as areas in need could become overwhelmed by a large number of people looking to help. The best way to start is to align yourself with an organization that can provide proper training and instruction. Consider:

Organize.

  • This Facebook page is dedicated to posts by those affected by the fires and those who wish to help. Residents and potential volunteers can post about missing people or pets and aid needs. You can find another similar page here.
  • Airbnb is providing housing for relief workers and victims through their Open Homes program. Have space? Check out their Northern California Wildfire page.
  • GoFundMe has a California fire relief page.

Help the firefighters.

Other "how you can help" lists:

As always, it's recommended do your own research to make sure your donations and time go as far as they possibly can in to reputable organizations. Visit Charity Navigator if you aren't sure whether an organization is trustworthy. The California Attorney General has also included a page that can help advise potential donors and volunteers.

Recently in Nation