Twenty-two large, fast-moving wildfires in northern California this week have burned more than 170,000 acres, killed at least 21 people and destroyed around 3,500 homes and commercial structures.
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 11 people died in just one of the fires, making it the sixth deadliest fire in state history.
In Sonoma County, 560 people were still unaccounted for as of Wednesday morning, though that eye-popping figure is likely in part a result of difficulty communicating in the fire-scarred area.
Nearby Mendocino County has also been hit particularly hard, with entire ranches burned to the ground.
“I feel so bad. I want to be donating and not donated to. I feel like I’m stealing, you know?” one woman in Mendocino County told The Mercury News. “If we get to go back to our home, we are going to set up a tent city in the yard because a lot of people will have no place to go back to.”
“Redwood Valley is just gone,” she added.
Some 50,000 people have evacuated so far, and that number could very well rise. Officials fear strong winds Wednesday night and Thursday morning, paired with low humidity, could spread the fires even farther.
In light of the ongoing disaster, here’s how you can help.
If you live in or near the affected region:
California Airbnb hosts can sign up here to offer free housing to evacuees and relief workers.
If you live in or near Sonoma and are willing to volunteer, you can register to do so at the Sonoma Community Center, which is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Those in or near Napa willing to volunteer are being asked to sign up and create a profile with the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership.
You could also foster an animal. Hundreds of pets have been evacuated from animal shelters in the affected region, leading to crowded facilities in…