Communities unite to help each other as people flee California fires

Embed from Getty Images

This are not great in Southern California right now. There are four major fires burning and three more have sprung up on the 10 freeway, Huntington Beach and Malibu. Having just experienced a state of emergency after the horrific Northern California fires and currently in the middle of a warm, dry winter, the fires are being aided by 80 mile an hour Santa Ana winds making them ferocious and unpredictable. Just as a disclaimer, things are changing hourly so what is written here could be outdated by the time you read it. So far, 150,000 people have been evacuated, over 120,000 of acres burned and LAUSD has closed 265 schools. Most of the images coming out right now are devastating, like this video:

That was two days ago. The fire in Common’s tweet is the Skirball Fire and it is actually one of the smaller fires destroying So Cal. It is, however, the one I am paying the most attention to as that photo above was taken about 5 miles from my son’s school. The stories coming out of these fires are even worse but honestly, I won’t be able to get through writing this if I post them. And to everyone chanting “Let It Burn” or declaring this is divine justice against Californians or certain leaders of the free world who have yet to comment on the tragedy – I don’t know you.

Instead, I’m going to take Ireland Baldwin’s lead and post stories like this. The largest fire right now is the Thomas Fire raging in Ventura. Ventura is currently cut off from its Northern neighbor, Santa Barbara, with the closure of the 101. The evacuees are trying to come south where four other fires are intermittently closing freeways. And as the city scrambled, these fine folks gave them a nice little send off. A group of people set up an impromptu concert to put a little levity in the situation:

live from Ventura ❤️

A post shared by Ireland Basinger-Baldwin (@irelandbasingerbaldwin) on

‘The band playing on the deck of the Titanic as it went down’ comparison aside, this is a nice moment among the insanity. And I imagine very much appreciated by those surrounded by the devastation. In moments of crisis, images of good are what we cling on to, like this young man who risked his own safety to help a terrified bunny to safety:

Or this newscaster and cameraman who stopped their report to save horses when the flames hit the barn they were reporting on:

Or neighbors like this:

Many celebrities’ homes are in danger. I know Chelsea Handler was evacuated. Chrissy Teigen is in danger as is Jennifer Aniston, Elon Musk, Beyoncé and JAY-Z. Rupert Murdoch’s vineyard caught fire.

For those of you in So Cal, there is a lot of information. The LA Times has suspended its paywall to get information out. The #LAFires on Twitter is posting some great information but do read carefully, not all of it is accurate. Also, we greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers – I cannot tell you how much – but if you could hold off on posting them to the #LAFires hashtag right now, many need that for real-time updates.

As always, God bless the First Responders:

Photo credit: Twitter and Getty Images

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

66 Responses to “Communities unite to help each other as people flee California fires”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Jamie42 says:

    Thank you for the posting. As someone who frequently used to visit California (my late husband’s home state) I’ve been trying to follow this closely.

    • Charlie says:

      I’m 5th generation Californian, but far from home. My heart hurts seeing this.

      Later, when everyone is safe, I hope a real conversation about restoring funding for forestry management and tools like controlled burns can be had. It makes such a difference.

      Be safe, I pray.

      • Savasana Lotus says:

        Thank you Charlie. I’m close by all of this yet not in harms way. I remember the last time the Sepulveda pass burned, and the time before, and I remember controlled burns. In safe conditions, it is imperative to burn this fuel for times like this purple alert level which is 2% humidity and Santa Anas. I suppose the funds do not exist for this, but that must change.

        To those that wish us ill…I have a family of friends plus another couple who were evacuated staying with me. All are volunteering regularly as am I. Angelenos are not just crunchy granola weirdos and Hollywood assholes…we are a community that supports each other and those in need. We come together and raise children and have an amazing holiday spirit. Year round I read such disparaging comments about California in general, all ignorant and completely off base. Considering the fact that the U.K. could fit in CA 3 times, it’s like criticizing 3 countries. Wwe are diverse, different but most of all caring, loving people who love our state for being so breathtakingly beautiful. HAve a heart.

      • Hazel says:

        It’s tough to fight nature—-droughts kill or weaken trees, then you get a lightning strike & it all goes up.

    • homeslice says:

      So sad for my state :( Prayers and good thoughts going out to all in danger zones :(

    • BrandyAlexander says:

      A few years ago, I was stuck in traffic at the San Bernadino (I think) pass, and watched as a wild fire started and spread. It was amazing to me how fast it happened, and I literally drove past a wall of flames as we were one of the last cars to get out. Luckily, this one was contained quickly with minimal damage, but I can still see the scorched plants when I drive through it. That was the scariest thing I ever went through in my life. I can’t even imagine the devastation California is going through right now.

  2. Starfish says:

    Thinking of everyone impacted by this and praying people can evacuate safely. It broke my heart hearing that racehorses have died and I saw heart wrenching video of people that are trying to coax them out of their stalls. Why isn’t Trump sending California help? He could send the National Guard but he has said and done nothing.

  3. Babs says:

    Wow. This is tragic. My heart goes to you people of So Cal and all live beings trapped in this.

  4. Sixer says:

    Even from far away here in Britland, I have extended family affected. All safe, thank heavens.

  5. laulau says:

    This is awful. I would be so scared driving on that highway.

  6. grabbyhands says:

    Stay safe, Hecate!!

    That the big orange splot has been silent or that some inhumane factions of this country are celebrating this doesn’t surprise me in the least. Let them stew in their own hatred.

    These are beautiful stories of people coming together when it counts. Bittersweet, but beautiful.

  7. Lucy2 says:

    This is devastating and terrifying. I had to evacuate for a fire once, and it’s awful to leave and not know if anything you own will be there when you return. Being prepared is so important.
    Is there a good list of organizations to donate to yet?

  8. Simplyme92 says:

    Ventura county resident (Oxnard, CA)here (employed in Santa Barbara), all prayers are appreciated. I’ve never been more scared. People I know, living in the most affected areas of Ventura county, have been evacuated and/or lost their homes. The air quality is horrible (pregnant and so scared to breathe in the air), evacuation centers are over capacity…praying and crying for our beautiful community

  9. lightpurple says:

    It bugs me no end to post something actually positive about the Orange Beast but he did tweet about the fires two days ago by retweeting a FEMA message & mentioning the first responders, although I firmly believe a staff person simply put it out on his account, due to the lack of grammatical errors and the fact the message actually made sense. He then returned to the usual programming of attacking others, praising himself, and advertising for Fox. His failure to speak about the fires in any meaningful way beyond that one RT is exasperating and infuriating.

    My heart goes out to all those in peril and all those who have lost something in these fires. Those poor animals. Fire is so uncontrollable, so fast, so frightening, and so devastating.

  10. anniefannie says:

    Why is this tragic situation being virtually ignored by the White House?!?
    My theory is Michael Lewis did a expose in Vanity Fair ( Dec) about the USDA and the alarming lack of positions ( under secretary’s) and this administrations overall ignorance about the Dept and its importance.
    When Lewis asked the outgoing Secretary given the overall issues facing the dept
    “What keeps you up at night?” His response,

  11. Other Renee says:

    We had fires break out yesterday in north San Diego county (I’m south of there), many people and animals have been evacuated and we are on high alert through the weekend. It’s very frightening. I left Los Angeles after the 1994 earthquake and hoped I’d never have to deal with a natural disaster again. But there have been too many fires here in the last 14 years. We had to evacuate once to nearby Orange County and way too many people I know lost their homes. I bought a lot of supplies yesterday, filled my car with gas, got cash and just hope it passes soon. Fire season in California has definitely expanded mainly because of CLIMATE CHANGE.

  12. Beth says:

    It’s so scary that there always seems to be fires in California. I can’t imagine what it’s like seeing these fires coming closer and closer to peoples houses and towns. Good luck to everyone there, and stay safe

    • winosaurusrex says:

      It’s scary, but for me I grew up with it. it’s devastating but you learn how to prepare. For me coming to Florida just before Irma was petrifying since I had never had to prepare for something like that before.

      But the fires this year are far worse than any I can remember in my lifetime.

  13. Kate says:

    NorCal resident here. We feel your pain neighbors to the south. Praying for the winds to break, for fire fighters to be able to get a handle on any of the fires. A distant relative lost their home in Santa Rosa earlier this year and we know the pain that many residents will suffer in the coming months. Nothing can prepare you for this. My home flooded last winter, and while nowhere on the same scale as all my belongings were at least still there. When Paige’s home burned, the best things we could do for her were gift cards to a multitude of places, so they could buy clothes, food and fuel. My heart breaks for you. Stay safe, follow evacuation orders and be prepared to leave at a moments notice. Even if you’re not in an evacuation area, those fires can shift and make huge runs at a moments notice. When the time comes be able to leave with whatever you can. Again, stay safe, love from NorCal, and hopefully we can get a handle on these fires. ❤️

  14. Lila says:

    Increase in Hurricanes in the Atlantic, snowing in San Antonio, Texas yesterday, Chicago having warm, dry weather up until yesterday and more raging fires in the West, this is a result of global warming.

  15. Rapunzel says:

    Central Valley CA resident here. Prayers for those in SoCal; we’ve had our own fires around here earlier this year that were devastating. Stay safe everyone!

  16. C-No says:

    My mom’s family is in SoCal. Aunt and uncle evacuated, Thomas Fire brushed their property but the house is safe. My cousin’s preemie was just allowed to go home, but he’s back in the NICU because the air is so bad.

    All my love and prayers are with them, and all of you.

  17. milla says:

    Holy … i didn’t even know how bad it is… with all the awful news i missed this.

    Prayers for all of you who live near this chaos. I just heard about it, but it seemed like a small fire not this.

  18. Cinderella says:

    Thoughts and well wishes to our Southern Californians (humans and animals). Please stay safe.

  19. Beth says:

    With all of these horrific storms and fires our country has recently had, it’s a good thing Trump didn’t get a chance to cut the FEMA budget to fund the damn wall like he planned.

  20. I have no words. My heart is breaking for the people and animals and the loss of property and homes. Blessings to the first responders.

  21. winosaurusrex says:

    I’m devastated. I was born and raised in Ventura County and lived there until 6 months ago when I moved to Florida.

    My old coworker lost her house in the first day of the Ventura fire, I’m watching my friends and family flee and have no where to go and I can’t do a thing about.

    When I lived there from the time i was 16 I helped with large animal evacuation, and last year organized one in my own neighborhood when a fire was coming over the hills into our horse community. The devastation like this has not been seen in more than 10 years. All I want to do is go home and help, and being stuck here is killing me.

    And I found out this morning that this f*xcking tax bill took out deductions for victims of natural disasters-particularly fires and earthquakes. So all of the victims are about to be victimized again.

  22. robyn says:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this man. In the age of Trump and his vile supporters and enablers, this man saves me from the dire conclusion that none of mankind deserves to exist.

    I am saddened at the loss of homes and the lives of animals, not to mention the danger to humans. Global warming is very rapidly increasing and very real, yet people still don’t believe. We disbelieve our obvious involvement in it, too, and at our own peril.

  23. Chloeee says:

    Venturan here. I’m so tired. Helicopters are still in full effect here. Just want it to end

    • winosaurusrex says:

      Are you safe? I know some people in Newbury Park, TO, Simi and the Valley who are opening their homes to those who want or need to get out.

      I’ll check back in here later, but if I don’t see a reply and you need anything I give CB permission to give you my e-mail so you can contact me and I can put you in touch with my friends in the area.

      • Chloeee says:

        @winosaurus you are so kind. We are okay. Two streets down from mandatory evacuation and watched a few houses burn Monday night. In the time we decided to voluntarily evacuate, fire changed direction. We were so tired we decided to try and sleep and the next day the air quality was so bad we didn’t leave the house. Yesterday was better but the smoke is pushing back our way. Just a waiting game now.

    • SallyTomato says:

      Fellow Ventura resident here. I know what you mean. Just when you think the worst has passed us it’s helicopters and sirens all over again. Glad you’re safe!

  24. Jill says:

    Thank for writing about this. Volunteers workers are all working overtime, LAFD are true heroes. The stories from the shelters are heartbreaking. Old people who have lost everything, people sleeping in their cars with their animals. As much as Calif needs rain, if it does rain this year the mudslides will be catastrophic.

  25. Becks says:

    Thank you. I live in LA and it breaks my heart to see this. So much loss and devastation 🙁

  26. Ozogirl says:

    It looks like hell on Earth. :(

  27. Bronson says:

    My sincere thoughts and prayers to everyone in Southern California. I live in Santa Rosa and just survived the Tubbs fire exactly 2 months ago tomorrow, which decimated 1/4 of the city. Seeing the photos from down south has been giving me small PTSD driven panic attacks and my heart just breaks for anyone having to deal with this. I know what you are going through. As we said up here, #theloveintheairisthickerthanthesmoke

  28. Felicia says:

    Forest fires are terrifying. We have a home in Europe in a place that regularly has forest fires along with the local equivalent of the Santa Ana winds. Some are started deliberately, some by carelessness (lit cigarettes thrown from cars for example). The last one that came through where we are came to quite literally maybe 4 or 5 meters from our house.

    The big difference is probably that the houses where we are are not built from flammable materials. If the fire can’t get into your house, it won’t burn down. I know this is probably the last thing those affected now are thinking of, but researching how to fireproof your home (including the vegetation around your house and how close it’s planted) is something that anyone who is impacted by this should look into in the aftermath. I’m not sure how possible it is to fireproof a wood-frame house, but it’s completely possible to do so with one that is built with other non-flammable materials.

  29. browniecakes says:

    Putting pictures back in frames and clothes back in he closet. We are directly in the path of the Creek Fire. Under mandatory evacuation for 3 days but stuck it out due to no smoke and no wind blowing in our direction. Took turns sleeping in shifts to check on the fire. Winds are hurricane force at times. It is beautiful here the rest of the time, I swear!