Fire relief for Northern California: 5 ways you can help

Fire Relief: 5 Ways to Help

As of July 28, 2018, Northern California has recently been impacted by 4 major fires. Sonja Edd-Bennett, director of disaster response for the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church, has provided an update as it relates to the fires and our efforts.  The following is an excerpt; find the full article at  

  • Carr Fire (Redding/Shasta) – This is currently the most aggressive and dangerous fire in Northern California. As of 6 a.m. Saturday morning, officials report about 80,000+ acres burning and just over 28,000 people evacuated with no identified date for repopulation. Over 500 homes have burned with many more having been damaged. This is now a declared state of emergency.  Though not currently ready, some clean-up will need to happen by specialized teams before people will be allowed back in (burned and unstable trees, hidden pits with ash, etc.).  Immediate needs for survivors will be helped through an emergency grant from the Conference Disaster Fund, and evaluation made if additional assistance needs to be requested from UMCOR.
  • Ferguson Fire (Mariposa County/Yosemite Area) – This fire is burning primarily on federal land, though some neighborhoods have been and are being threatened. As of this writing, some homeowners are being allowed to return.  This is now a state declared disaster, though it is not clear if there will be individual assistance for those who have been displaced.  An immediate response of $2,000 from the Conference Disaster Fund is being sent.
  • Klamathon Fire (Siskiyou County) – This fire burned 82 structures, with approximately 34 being homes in the small, under resourced town of Hornbrook and is now moving into the Recovery Stage. This became a state declared disaster.  We distributed nearly $4,000 in gift cards from the Conference Disaster Fund.  Church staff are gathering data on the fire to help determine if a long term recovery effort is needed.
  • Pawnee Fire (Lake County) – This is the 5th fire in 4 years for the residents in Lake County and quickly became a state declared disaster. We gave out $4,000 from Conference Disaster Fund for immediate gift cards for gas and groceries to replace food lost due to extended evacuation.  Received Emergency Grant of $10,000 from UMCOR to help with additional gift cards for evacuees (up to 1500 evacuated) and additional unmet needs or immediate needs of other subsequent fires in the area.  Lake County’s existing Long Term Recovery Group will provide the Disaster Case Management of the new cases, and we will continue to work with partners to identify ways the local UMC as well as the Conference and UMCOR may be of help.



1.  Prayer – Pray for all those whose lives have been impacted by these fires, including firefighters, relief workers, and those who are survivors of previous fires

2.  Cash Donations – Consider donating cash through one of the following:

Cash is the most flexible and manageable way to donate to response and recovery.

Please do not send material donations. Unsolicited donations of items such as clothing, furniture, and toys require space, organization and management and are considered the ‘disaster within the disaster’, taking human and financial resources away from survivor recovery.  

3.  Volunteering –If you feel a call to give of your time and talent, please do so through an organized group. Unrequested and/or unsupervised volunteers can be more of a challenge than a help! Opportunities include your local Volunteers in Mission (VIM) team or other groups from the church; or consider joining in with a community partner such as the American Red Cross or check in with

4.  Relief Supply Kit – While it may not come to our specific disaster, UMCOR’s relief-supply kits program benefits us all. Check out the link to see how you can help.

5.  Training – There is no time like the present to prepare for the future! We are hosting a variety of trainings across the Annual Conference. Keep an eye on the Conference calendar for dates.

Sonja Edd-Bennett
Director, Disaster Response Ministry
California-Nevada Annual Conference of
The United Methodist Church

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