Last week California began experiencing some of the largest wildfires in decades. As the fire grew it took lives of loved ones and homes of thousands. Those even smaller and helpless were affected by the California wildfires as well, animals lives and homes were taken in its wake. The disastrous combination of extremely high winds (up to 80 mph!), warm temperatures, and dry conditions have caused a number of fires to spark and spread throughout Southern California. The fires have forced tens of thousands to evacuate and destroyed everything in their paths, including wilderness, homes, ranches, and a hospital, while also causing wildlife to flee in fear and confusion.
The Thomas Fire in Ventura County was the first and largest to erupt and has since burned 132,000 acres and is only ten percent contained. The Creek Fire in the San Gabriel Foothills in Los Angeles County was the second fire to spark, burning over 15,000 acres and is only 20 percent contained. The Rye Fire in Santa Clarita has spread across 7,000 acres and is 25 percent contained. Over 4,000 acres have been burned in the Lilac Fire in San Diego County, the Liberty Fire in Riverside County has burned 300 acres, and the Skirball Fire near the Getty Center in Los Angeles has burned nearly 500 acres and is 20 percent contained.
With this enormous degree of out-of-control destruction, people are being strongly advised to listen to authorities and evacuate immediately if instructed to do so. Seeing as animals are also affected by this hellish nightmare, people are being told to keep their animals indoors and keep water outside for wildlife who may end up in their yards while fleeing from the fires. In the case of emergency evacuation, people are strongly urged to not leave their animals behind. However, there is much more that needs to be done to help the animals affected by the fires, and here is how you can help.
The Humane Society of Ventura County, which has been taking in animals displaced by the fires, is accepting a wide array of donations, from hay and animal food to flashlights and power generators. These donations can be brought to them at 402 Bryant St. in Ojai, and monetary donations can be sent to them here.
Citizens for a Humane Los Angeles is looking for foster homes to help clear up space at shelters for displaced animals. If you are able to provide temporary shelter to companion animals, you can contact the organization here or call them at 323-244-8020.
The Wildlife Waystation is an animal rescue and rehabilitation center in the Los Angeles National Forest that has been in operation since 1976. When they woke up to fires earlier this week, they sprung into action to evacuate the hundreds of animals in their care, including tigers, hyenas, buffaloes, and chimpanzees. The power was out, forcing them to work under flashlight amidst the smoke. Costs for all this are estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars, and donations are much appreciated by them, which can be sent here.
In times of tragedy, often the best in people emerges, so please remember you have the power to help the recovery process of these devastating fires and help both people and animals.