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California wildfires: How New Yorkers can help victims

The Red Cross and other groups are asking for donations.

A helicopter drops water over burning embers on

A helicopter drops water over burning embers on a hillside overlooking homes in West Hills, near Malibu, California, on Sunday, as the effort to control the Woolsey Fire continues. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Frederic J. Brown

A group of New Yorkers is on the ground in California to help thousands of families displaced by two ongoing wildfires and their organizer is asking for others to assist recovery efforts.

Six New York-area Red Cross volunteers are in California, five in the northern part of the state, where the Camp Fire is being fought, and one in the southern section, where the Woolsey Fire is threatening homes, according to Michael de Vulpillieres, a spokesman for the nonprofit’s greater New York office. He added that the Red Cross expects other volunteers from the tristate area to head to California this week.

In the meantime, he said, concerned New Yorkers can best help by donating to the nonprofit so it can provide more resources to shelters on the ground.

“Cash is the quickest way for someone from the farthest area to help,” de Vulpillieres said.

He noted that donations can be made online at redcross.org and cellphone users can text CAWILDFIRES 90999 to make a $10 donation. De Vulpillieres said the New York Red Cross members who are currently deployed are helping in different ways.

“We have a woman who is a registered nurse … We have a gentleman who is a trained mental health specialist. We have shelter volunteers,” he said. “The outpouring of support out here has been incredible.”

Several other organizations are providing relief to people affected by the fires including the North Valley Community Foundation, which is taking donations through its website, nvcf.org, and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, which is raising money on its website, wffoundation.org, for families of firefighters injured or killed by the two fires.

A spokesman for the city’s Office of Emergency Management said it has not yet sent personnel to the West Coast to assist rescue efforts.

The Camp Fire killed at least 29 people and burned down more than 6,700 homes and businesses in Paradise, California. It has become the state's deadliest and most destructive blaze on record. The Woolsey Fire has destroyed 177 homes and other structures and killed at least two people.

With Reuters

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