More than 65,000 acres in and near Ventura County have been engulfed as wildfires continue to rage across southern California.
Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, saying, “This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we’ll continue to attack it with all we’ve got. It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”
The fires have already caused considerable damage, according to the L.A. Times, “At least 150 structures — including one large apartment complex and the Vista Del Mar Hospital, a psychiatric facility — were consumed by flames. But Cal Fire suspects the true number is hundreds more; firefighters just haven’t been able to get into areas to know for sure.”
Dozens of schools across the area are closed, thousands have evacuated their homes already, and as of Tuesday, the fire was 0 percent contained.
The size of the fire will likely grow, according to Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Stan Ziegler. Authorities are still seeing “erratic fire behavior and erratic winds so it’s making the firefight very difficult,” Ziegler said.
For those looking for assistance, the Red Cross has opened multiple shelters in the area. According to its website:
HOW TO FIND A SHELTER If you need the location of a shelter or other help, you should follow your local media or go to redcross.org and check the shelter map. People can also find a shelter by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Emergency App also puts wildfire safety tips at your fingertips. The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
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.
As the holiday season approaches, many families will be left without homes and in need of basic items such as clothing.
Johnny Hekker, punter for the LA Rams football team, is already trying to help. When he saw the devastation, and plumes of smoke, Hekker “went to his neighborhood Target and cleaned out clothing racks and some supplies of kids toys,” according to the Los Angeles Daily News. Hekker brought the items to a Red Cross shelter. (The Red Cross has set up shelters in Ventura, Oxnard, and Ojai.)
Hekker explained his actions, saying, “Walking around the store there really was not enough stuff. I really want to go back and buy out the whole store because there’s people here who are in need of so much.”
If anyone would like to help, the United Way of Ventura County, the American Red Cross of Ventura County and the Ventura County Sheriff’s office of Emergency Services have formed the Thomas Fire Fund which will help victims.
Once the fire is contained, the local, state, and federal governments will need to work together to ensure that everyone who needs assistance receives it. In the past, Donald Trump has not been attentive to the needs of California residents.
In a time of emergency, residents need their government officials to put aside partisan differences and work together for what is best for the community.