North Bay wildfires: How to stay informed, help victims

A destroyed home in Sonoma. Photo: Emilie Raguso

As blazes continue to destroy neighborhoods and force massive evacuations throughout the North Bay, many in Berkeley are wondering how they can find information on those missing, help displaced residents, and identify resources for those affected.

The latest reports suggest the areas on fire are growing, with more than 100,000 acres affected. Fire crews are focusing on safety rather than control. At least seventeen people have died as a result of the fires, and hundreds have been reported missing. Thousands of structures, including homes, businesses and wineries, have been destroyed.

Stay informed

Share information

Hundreds of people are reported missing in the areas affected by the fires, and inconsistent cellphone service has made it difficult for some to publicize their whereabouts. People can mark themselves safe on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website. Conversely, anyone in the East Bay wondering about friends and loved ones up north can search the site. The Santa Rosa Fire Department has a list of evacuation shelters in the area, and those who have sought shelter are encouraged to register.

Those in the area can also mark themselves as safe on Facebook, or report a missing person by calling the Sonoma County Fire hotline at 707-565-3856. Comcast has removed restrictions on its WiFi hotspots in the area, so anyone can log in as a guest for free. Search for the hotspots online by zip code.


Fires have spread across more than 100,000 acres. Follow a live map tracking the location of the blazes. Map source: NWCG

Volunteer

Those interested in traveling across the bay to volunteer can sign up with the Red Cross, which is currently at capacity but is collecting names for new opportunities that arise. The Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership is also coordinating volunteers.

Donate

In Berkeley, the Jewish Community Center, at 1414 Walnut St., is collecting canned food, clothing, toiletries and other donated items. Staff will make two trips to the North Bay, Tuesday night and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Sports Basement at 2727 Milvia St. is also collecting donations to bring to the affected areas as well. Oakland’s 1-2-3-4 Go! Records is also taking donations, which will be driven up to Santa Rosa evacuation centers throughout the week. The record store has posted lists of needed items on its Facebook page.

The Red Cross is collecting monetary donations, as is the Napa Valley Community Foundation. A local winemaker has also set up a crowdfunding campaign to support the many fire departments and rescue authorities tackling the flames. And the North Bay Indo-American Association is collecting funds to provide around 20 low-income families who are in dire need of support $50,000 each.

Ashkenaz, at 1317 San Pablo Ave., is turning its monthly comedy show into a benefit for fire victims. All proceeds from the Thursday event will be donated to the Redwood Empire Food Bank, and the venue will be accepting donated items as well. Around the corner at the Gilman on Friday, bands will donate proceeds to fire victims too.

See a longer list of East Bay food businesses that have also planned events or are otherwise helping those affected by the fires.


Provide shelter

Hundreds have lost their homes to the fires and around 20,000 people have been forced to evacuate, leaving many in need of a place to sleep. Airbnb has activated a disaster relief program facilitating temporary shelter for evacuees. Hosts in designated parts of the Bay Area can offer shelter to displaced residents for free through the end of the month. Homes in Berkeley and Oakland, as well as parts of Contra Costa County, San Francisco and the North Bay, are eligible.

Take care of pets

The city of Berkeley’s animal shelter and Berkeley Humane have each taken in a number of animals from the North Bay, clearing shelter space for pets of evacuees and strays. Many cats, a dog and two rabbits are up for adoption.

A reader reports that Berkeley Dog & Cat Hospital at 2126 Haste St. is offering free pet boarding to fire evacuees. Golden Gate Fields is also housing several horses displaced by the fires as well, and coordinating volunteers to bring feed and supplies up north. Pet Food Express is donating pet supplies to shelters in the North Bay, and is requesting donations of pet crates. Those can be dropped off at any of the chain’s stores, including at 1101 University Ave. and 6398 Telegraph Ave.

Let us know of other local opportunities to help or useful resources not included here by commenting below or writing to tips@berkeleyside.comWe will aim to continue to update this post as we learn more.