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Wildfires are wreaking havoc across California, leaving hundreds to thousands of people missing and claiming more than 80 lives. The deadly flames, ignited earlier this month, have been burning across both ends of the state, sweeping a total area of nearly 400 square miles, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Northern California's Camp Fire has become the deadliest and most destructive wildland fire in California's history. There have been 18,421 structures destroyed (13,778 residences, 514 commercial and 4,129 other buildings) across 153,336 acres burned thus far.
Meanwhile, the Woolsey Fire in the south had jumped the 101 Freeway before decimating areas of Malibu and Calabasas. There have been 1,500 structures destroyed and 341 damaged across 96,949 acres burned thus far.
As death tolls continue to rise, the smoke pollutes the air across the west coast, and residents anticipate devastating mudslides on top of the fires that are only 80 and 98 percent contained so far, Californians are in need.
If you're looking for ways to help those who've lost their homes or pets, those suffering from the devastation in other ways, and those on the ground battling the fatal flames, there are a number of charities and organizations accepting donations. Here are six ways you can lend a hand to those impacted by California's wildfires — even if you're across the country.
Donate to organizations that are supporting recovery and relief efforts in California. The California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund “supports intermediate and long-term recovery efforts for major California wildfires, as well as preparedness efforts.” It's raised more than $5 million thus far.
The Northern California chapter of United Way is a major supporter of the victims of Camp Fire, while the Greater Los Angeles chapter is raising money for those affected by the southern wildfires.
Thousands of people have lost their homes across California, which means they'll be homeless for the holidays. The Red Cross “is providing both shelter and emotional support for evacuees." It's currently managing 18 community evacuation centers across the state, sheltering thousands of displaced Californians. You can text REDCROSS to 90999 or call 1-800-RED CROSS to make an automatic $10 donation to help those evacuees, too.
If you have a home near impacted areas in California, Airbnb encourages you to house displaced residents and relief workers for free until Nov. 29. You can sign up to open your home here.
The North Valley Community Foundation is also raising money to help organizations sheltering evacuees of the Camp Fire. And the California Fire Foundation is offering short-term financial assistance to those who've lost their homes in the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire, as well.
Firefighters and first responders are battling deadly flames and harrowing health conditions to save California. To help them, you can reach out to donate to organizations like Direct Relief, which is providing N-95 masks, medicine and other resources to healthcare agencies and first responders across California.
The Entertainment Industry Foundation is also raising funds to support firefighters and first responders with hydration backpacks and night-vision goggles, and you can pledge any amount of money over $5 via the organization's homepage.
The Butte County Firefighter Benevolent Foundation has a GoFundMe page for firefighters in the county who have been trying to tackle the Camp Fire, and the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation is also collecting donations on behalf of its firefighters. You can donate both money and cars to the Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation to assist the firefighters and first responders.
The Salvation Army is providing meals in local churches, fairgrounds and a community college to those impacted by the California wildfires. The Salvation Army has already deployed a number of teams to provide meal services at evacuation centers in both the north and south of the state.
The Enloe Medical Center is serving displaced families near Camp Fire, and it's now seeking donations to help the hospitals' caregivers, as well as its existing and incoming patients and families.
You can also support caregivers by donating baby supplies like diapers, wipes, blankets and other essentials to families in need by purchasing from Baby2Baby's Target registry.
Many families have lost their pets, many farmers have lost their animals and other wild animals across the state have been displaced or injured by the fires. The Humane Society of Ventura County is accepting evacuated animals in need of shelter, and it's seeking monetary donations to support its efforts.
Meanwhile, the North Valley Animal Disaster Group is actively working on identifying lost pets and reuniting them with their owners, and it's also accepting donations to support its efforts.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.
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