California Wildfires — How to Donate & What You Need to Know Now

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As the wildfires in Northern and Southern California rage on, there are an increasing number of people and organizations in need of your support and action. Making a monetary donation to reputable charity is often the best way to send your support to thousands of firefighters and all of those suffering displacement or the loss of their loved ones, businesses, homes and property.

Below, you’ll find a list of some of the best (and easiest) ways you can donate to help those impacted by the California wildfires. But first — here is a status update on the California wildfires as of late Monday evening (Nov. 12).

There are three main fires in California you’ve probably been hearing about in the news: The Camp Fire in Northern California, the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, and the Hill Fire in Ventura County, CA. Fortunately, the Hill Fire is now over 80 percent contained with no loss of life reported; whereas the Camp and Woolsey fires continue to wreak havoc on the state. Wildfire experts and weather reports forecast several more challenging days on the horizon before the fires will be contained.

The Camp Fire in Northern California — which is only ~25 percent contained as of Monday’s reports — has reached a death toll of 44 people, making it the deadliest fire on record in California’s history.

It is also the most destructive fire to ever ravage the state, with 113,000 acres, 6,453 homes & 260 other structures obliterated since the fire broke out last Thursday.

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Firefighters battle to save homes from the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, on Thursday. (Stephen Lam, Reuters)

Northern California’s Camp Fire has already surpassed the Mendocino Complex Fire from August 2018 which previously had set the record as the state’s largest fire to date. In total, the  Mendocino fire burned ~350,000 acres of land in northern California and destroyed over 146 homes.

In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire rages on, tearing through 90,000 acres to date, devastating well-known communities like Malibu and Thousand Oaks. The Woolsey Fire has killed 2 people and destroyed at least 370 structures, with another ~57,000 structures still under threat as the fire continues at only ~20 percent contained.

Over 300,000 people have been forced from their homes statewide, the majority of which were in Los Angeles County, where 170,000 were evacuated. More than 200 people have been reported missing. Sadly, at least 39 firefighters have lost their homes while working around the clock to protect the lives and homes of thousands of other people.

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A home is engulfed in flames during the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California. (REUTERS/Gene Blevins)

After an initial tweet regarding the California wildfires that ignited controversy over its insensitivity and inaccuracy, President Trump tweeted on Monday evening that he had approved an “expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of California.”

Where to Get Updates on the California Wildfires:

Real-time California fire and smoke map

Real-time California traffic map to aid with evacuations

Camp Fire online damage assessment map

How You Can Help:

Let’s start with some pointers —

  1. Donating money, rather than physical goods, is almost always the best and most efficient way to help in a disaster.
  2. As a general rule, always do your research before making a donation to any organization to make sure that your money will be used in the way you intended. Charity Navigator is great place to start.
  3. We talk a lot on this site about “living your best life”, and a key part of that “best life” is giving back. It is SO freaking easy to take less than 30 seconds to donate $10 to a cause you care about. The problem is — and we all know this — it’s also really freaking easy NOT to. Challenge yourself to figure out a system of giving back that works for you and make it a priority in your life. You’ll be doing good and feeling good about it.

Now, onto our list of places accepting donations to help the people impacted by the California wildfires!

Direct Relief

Direct Relief is a humanitarian aid organization active in all 50 states and more than 80 countries, with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies. Your donation will go toward providing N-95 masks, medicine, and other resources to healthcare agencies and first responders in wildfire-affected communities across California.

(Bonus: Tito’s Vodka has pledged to match all donations, up to $15,000.)

Google

If you Google “donate to Southern California wildfires” you will see a notice from Google about making a donation at the top of your search results. By clicking the “Yes, Donate” button, you can give any amount of money to Southern California disaster relief with a few clicks thanks to Google’s nonprofit partnership with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Red Cross

The Red Cross has deployed disaster response teams in California to provide shelter and aid for fire victims and evacuees. You can donate through their website or make an automatic $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

United Way

The United Way of Greater Los Angeles is partnering with United Way of Ventura County to collect donations to its Disaster Relief Fund. Donate online or text UWVC to 41444.

Airbnb

If you are a host and would like to offer your accommodations for free to California fire evacuees in need of emergency shelter, sign up for the Airbnb Evacuee Program.

3FishStudios

San Francisco-based art studio 3FishStudios has created a special edition Wildlife Relief Bundle of artwork for $35, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to help relief efforts in California. Their prior 2017 campaign raised $100,000 for those affected by last year’s California wildfires.

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If you’re interested in learning more about what the hell these wildfires are all about:

Why does it seem like wildfires keep getting worse?

Why does California have so many wildfires?

How do firefighters fight wildfires?

And finally, here is an easy-to-understand 101 overview on wildfires courtesy of National Geographic

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