Wildfires in California have now claimed the lives of 66 people, with over 600 listed as missing according to a CBS News report.
The Camp Fire, the most destructive fire in the state’s history, has destroyed over 11,000 homes and buildings in northern California, and practically wiped out the town of Paradise.
At the same time, the Woolsey Fire burning west of Los Angeles has left three confirmed fatalities and destroyed 548 buildings.
While fire fighters are working to contain the fires, which could endanger even more homes and threaten more lives, Catholic Charities is working with relief agencies to aid the victims of the fires.
While Catholic Charities USA is featuring a plea for donations to victims of the fire on the home page of their website, the local branches of the aid group are both collecting supplies for victims who have lost all of their possessions, and preparing for the long-term affects of the fire.
“We’re just really focusing on getting the really crucial, needed items over to the affected victims over there at this point…warm clothes, shoes, paper products, blankets and coats are among the most needed items right now. And that’s really what we’re asking the community to provide,” Matt Vaughn, director of communications for Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada told the Catholic News Agency.
Once the smoke has cleared, Catholic Charities in Santa Barbara/Ventura region expects to focus its efforts on the low-income people affected by the fire.
“The interesting thing about this fire— and this was actually the case with the fire we had last December— almost everybody who is immediately impacted is insured and has means. So they tend not to flock to shelters,” Daniel Grimm, director of the agency explained to CNA.
“[But] later on, we deal with low-income people who have lost their jobs from not being able to go into work because of road closures, and also tenants who have lost their rental property and need to find a new place. Often they’re not in a position to come up with a new deposit, new first month’s rent,” he said.
To make donation to victims of the California fires, visit the Catholic Charities USA website.