BILLINGS – About 75 Montana firefighters are helping with the fires in California.
John Staley, chief of the Lockwood Fire District, told MTN News Tuesday that in his 42 years of experience, these fires in California are among the worst he’s ever seen.
Not because of the destruction, but because of the fire’s speed, he said.
Staley added that he thinks Montana firefighters are “the best of the best,” and he believes their experience in similar terrain will make a difference in California.
“The bulk of the wildlands in this country are west and south and northwest. Most of the people we send out there have been doing it for a long time, including the people from Cal Fire, so if experience has any factor then yes, these are some of the best people doing it, ” he added.
The devastating wildfires have seized California, scorching an entire town and forcing thousands of residents to flee from their homes.
Three major fires are still burning across the state including the “Camp Fire” north of Sacramento, which is now blamed for at least 42 deaths, making it the deadliest fire California has ever seen.
Meanwhile, the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire are threatening thousands of structures northwest of Los Angeles.
President Trump has approved an emergency disaster declaration which makes federal resources available to affected communities, but if you also want to help out here are some ways to do so:
American Red Cross
The Red Cross is seeking donations for the numerous evacuation centers they’ve opened for California residents seeking refuge. Red Cross evacuation centers do accept pets. You can visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Both the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the United Way of Northern California are seeking donations to help their respective communities. United Way of Northern California is providing emergency cash grants to those who lost their homes and is working to connect other non-profits with survivors in need of their services. The United Way of Greater Los Angeles has also set up a disaster relief fund.
Airbnb is looking for people who are able to host those displaced by the fires and relief workers in Ventura, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Diego counties through November 29. You can sign up here if you are interested in being a host.
The Salvation Army is working at both ends of the state to provide meals and gift cards to victims of the wildfires. So far, they have provided more than 150,000 meals and over $100,000 worth of gift cards and other needed items. Donate to those affected in Northern California fire here and to help Southern California victims go here.
International Association of Fire Fighters
The IAFF, which represents thousands of firefighters and responders, is accepting donations for its Disaster Relief Fund. The 100-year-old organization uses these funds to help firefighters who are working on the front lines and their families, from financial to emotional support.
GoFundMe has compiled a list of verified GoFundMe campaigns to help victims of the fires. If you can’t decide on a campaign or want to help more than one, you can also donate to their Direct Impact Fund, which supports a number of campaigns connected to California fires.
MTN’s Zoe Zandora contributed to this story