Hundreds of firefighters hailing from Australia and New Zealand have been shipped into California to assist crews in fighting one of the largest blazes in the state’s history. According to the U.S. Forest Service-Pacific Southwest Region, the teams arrived in Redding on Monday.
Cal Fire has stated that the Carr Fire, which has engulfed huge areas of Redding and the broader Shasta County, has decimated some 1,600 structures, and continues to rage across the region. The fire was 47 percent contained as of late Monday, after it destroyed over 160,000 acres of land.
Australia and New Zealand Firefighters arriving in Redding have mobilized through a longstanding partnership with the USDA Forest Service to ensure adequate numbers of experienced fire managers are available to suppress large fires. #CarrFire #MendocinoComplexFires #MutualAid pic.twitter.com/oovrIGY3v2
— USFS Fire-California (@R5_Fire_News) August 6, 2018
Specialist reinforcements were drafted in as exhausted Cal Fire personnel desperately try to contain the 16 enormous infernos currently burning across California. Seven people been confirmed dead in the Carr Fire, with thousands losing everything in the blaze.
“Battling these relentless fires requires a Herculean effort,” California Gov. Jerry Brown wrote in his request to President Donald Trump for a presidential major disaster declaration. The request has since been approved by the White House.
“Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” the White House said of the aid the government will be providing, according to Business Insider.
As residents return home to Redding, the local Bethel Church congregation continues to serve its community by hosting a Red Cross aid distribution hub, as well as taking residents on “Ash Outs” — helping them recover valuable items from the rubble and ashes of their former homes.
“Today, we deployed volunteer teams to assist those who lost their homes with Ash Outs,” Bethel posted to Facebook yesterday. “We cannot begin to describe the feeling of helping someone who lost their home find something that they thought was gone forever. This is part of what it means to live like Jesus– to link hands together as we move forward.”
Yesterday, the church took to social media to appeal for more volunteers.
“We need 400 volunteers a day to run the distribution center,” they explained in an Instagram post. “Grab your friend, bring your family, get your small group to come with you, and help us serve Redding well!”
“I’ve never seen Redding come together like this.” // It’s not just about meeting people’s needs, it’s about hearing their stories. We are deeply moved by the strength of the Redding community and honored to stand with them as they take the next steps forward. #strongpeople #strongfamily #strongcity #reddingstrong
Officials believe that the catastrophic fire was caused by something seemingly insignificant: a flat tire. When a trailer tire blew out on a road outside Redding last month, the trailer’s rims scraped the asphalt and sent sparks flying into the surrounding shrubbery. According to CNN, this ignition set the course for the fire to start raging up Highway 299 and, eventually, sent it hurtling toward residential areas.
Yesterday, California State Senator Ted Gaines visited the Salvation Army Distribution Center to see how relief efforts…
But the fire is not done yet. According to Cal Fire director, Ken Pimlott, fire season is only just getting started.
“Fire season is really just beginning,” he said at a press conference Saturday. “What seems like we should be in the peak of fire season, historically, is really now the kind of conditions we’re seeing really at the beginning.”
Keep praying for the fires to recede, and for God’s comfort upon those who have lost everything.