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Wildfire Relief Image

Wildfire Relief

In the United States, wildfires are now year-round occurrences, and The Salvation Army is ready to provide aid throughout the year.

Wildfires can strike at any moment and spread at an alarmingly fast rate. With just a bit of dry vegetation and a spark, roaring flames can erupt in seconds, devastating homes, businesses, and displacing thousands. 

If you are in immediate need of wildfire assistance, contact your local Salvation Army today for wildfire relief and recovery. 


The Salvation Army's Wildfire Relief Efforts 

At The Salvation Army, we know that disasters can strike at any moment and create devastating losses. Our wildfire relief efforts support immediate and long-term recovery after major wildfires happen across the United States. Our team of first responders and emergency assistance volunteers are on the ground before, during, and after wildfires to provide relief to survivors and work alongside other nonprofits and first responders to help people recover quickly. 

Emergency Support 

In the midst of a wildfire, Salvation Army volunteers are dispatched to provide immediate relief to survivors. We go to locations directly impacted by wildfires to provide emergency aid and set up our own relief centers. Our volunteers and professionals provide basic needs assistance such as meals, drinks, snacks, and bedding, as well as first aid, emergency medical care, mental health services, and emotional or spiritual care to evacuees and first responders.  

We also provide temporary housing to those fleeing an active wildfire, or those who have faced property damage. We have emergency shelters nationwide for families to seek refuge and find a safe place to rest after fleeing a wildfire or other natural disaster. At our emergency shelters, we can also connect you with a caseworker to help you and your family get back on your feet fast following a disaster. 

Learn how The Salvation Army provided meals to the evacuees of the Dixie, Caldor, and Monument wildfires. 

Donations and Grants 

The Salvation Army provides donations and grants to support those who have been displaced during a wildfire, or those who have lost housing, belongings, or employment. We offer financial assistance to support those who need it most, and can help families with rehousing, childcare, transportation, and more. 

In addition to monetary donations, we also dispatch basic needs donations such as food, fuel, clean water, and medicine to both survivors and first responders helping during a crisis. 

Long-Term Relief Programs 

The Salvation Army is committed to helping survivors of a wildfire, even after it has gone out. Our permanent presence and long-term recovery efforts keep us in a devastated community to help provide financial assistance, rebuild homes, strengthen infrastructure, and bring a community back together after the wake of a wildfire tragedy. We also partner with other local and national organizations to strategize a rebuilding process to make sure the most needs are being met efficiently for community building. 

In addition to our own long-term support efforts, we also work to partner survivors and displaced families with sources that can provide other resources. Our caseworkers can connect wildfire survivors to government disaster relief funds or other disaster relief organizations that may have other means to help find solutions, such as affordable housing or emergency translation services. 


What Are the Causes and Effects of Wildfires? 

Wildfires are unplanned burns that happen in natural areas such as forests, grasslands, and prairies. They can be the result of human activity, such as an uncontrolled campfire, or natural phenomenon such as lightning. When a wildfire sparks, it can burn at rapid speed, devastating natural areas, wildlife, and communities. 

Extremely dry conditions, such as those caused by drought or global warming, or conditions with high winds increase the risk of wildfires. Peak wildfire season in the United States is typically during the month of August, when areas become extremely hot and dry. Wildfires mainly affect arid regions of the Western United States. Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas have the highest risk of wildfire. 

Wildfires are major natural disasters, disrupting critical services like power and gas, clean water supply, communication, and transportation. They also are incredibly difficult to contain, causing a deterioration in air quality due to heavy wildfire smoke and ash that linger in the air for days on end. While N95 masks and air filtration can help mitigate the effects, people with respiratory conditions like asthma face the greatest health risk from the particles produced by wildfires. 

Wildfire Preparedness 

Wildfires used to be considered a regional and seasonal problem, but due to changing environmental effects, they are getting larger, more dangerous, and happening on an ongoing basis. More and more people in the United States find their areas at risk of wildfires. However, it is possible to take action that prepares your household and community in the event that a wildfire does happen in your area. 

Prepare for Wildfires
  • Know what a “fire weather watch” is: dangerous fire conditions are possible in 12 to 72 hours. 
  • Pay attention to local air quality alerts, such as heavy smoke or low visibility due to fires. 
  • Have multiple means of receiving alerts. The FEMA app and National Weather Service alerts are great ways to keep tabs on severe weather warnings nationwide. 
  • Sign up for community news alerts in your area and know your Emergency Alert System tones. 
  • Keep your home's roof and gutters clear of debris that could spark. 
  • Have a 30-foot “fire-resistant zone” around your house, making sure it is free of dry leaves, dead trees, wood piles, flammable debris, and other items that can burn. 
  • Make sure your car is fueled with gas and equipped with emergency supplies and a change of clothes in the event you need to evacuate quickly. 
  • Have a Communication and Evacuation Plan, and make sure everyone in your house knows where to go or who to contact in the event of a wildfire. 
  • Have an emergency kit with supplies such as water, non-perishable food, and a first aid kit with an array of medical supplies. Aim to have a kit at home and in your vehicle. 
  • If available, keep N95 masks to protect yourself and your family from inhaling smoke. 
  • Make copies of your important documents such as insurance statements and IDs, and keep them in a safe location you can easily access. 
Stay Safe During a Wildfire
  • Evacuate immediately if you are instructed to do so and know your evacuation routes. 
  • If you are recommended to shelter in place but smoky conditions exist, stay indoors in a safe location where smoke levels are lower. 
  • If accessible, turn on any air filters to capture fine particles of smoke. 
  • Stay up to date with your local health department about drinking water safety, as wildfires can taint local water supplies and make them unsafe to drink from. 
Stay Safe After a Wildfire
  • Only return home after evacuation when your local authorities deem it safe. 
  • Be cautious in burned areas as hot spots can flare up without warning. 
  • Check periodically for sparks and smoke nearby, and remain alert when the fire has subsided. 
  • Photograph any property damage and contact your insurance company if your house or valuables have been damaged by the wildfire. 
  • Contact your local Salvation Army for assistance during or after a wildfire.

How To Help 

Disaster donations to The Salvation Army not only helps us provide aid to wildfire survivors, but also first responders giving care. Your donations also make it possible for our long-term relief efforts to help rebuild devastated communities. 

You can help us in our goal to provide wildfire relief through the following means: 

Donating Money

Charitable donations help us to do the most good. When you donate to The Salvation Army’s emergency disaster response, 100% of the proceeds go to our disaster relief operations and financial assistance for those affected. You can also donate gift cards for gas, groceries, or big-box stores which will be given to survivors of wildfires. 

Donate Now

Donating Goods

Basic needs items are always a necessity for disaster survivors. Our locations may need different goods donations depending on the circumstance, but the most often needed for wildfire survivors include: 

  • Bandanas, work gloves, and other protective clothing items
  • Bottled water and other packaged drinks
  • Boxes, barrels, and heavy-duty plastic bags (for survivors to collect their possessions)
  • Cleaning items such as rags, mops, brooms, and scrub brushes
  • Device chargers First aid kits
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Gently used or new work boots or rain boots
  • Hygiene items including soap, detergent, disinfectant, garbage bags, and hand sanitizer
  • Infant care items such as formula, diapers, and rash cream
  • Linens such as bedding and pillows
  • New undergarments such as underwear or socks
  • Nonperishable, packaged food items and snacks
  • PPE, including dust masks
  • Protective equipment such as work gloves, boots, helmets, and masks
  • Rebuilding supplies, including plastic tarps, nails, plywood, and hand tools
  • Safety equipment, including dust masks and first aid kits
  • Snacks Supplies for cleaning and rebuilding projects, including helmets, gloves, and tools
  • Toys and books to entertain children
  • Utility tools such as plastic buckets, shovels, and rakes

Please contact your local Salvation Army incident management team before collecting or trying donate these items. The local emergency disaster services team will need to establish reception and distribution plans before these items can be collected or distributed to people in need, and a surprise in-kind donation, though well-meaning, can become an increased challenge for disaster teams and personnel.

Donating Time

Becoming a volunteer is an important way to give back to communities affected by a disaster, and it is also imperative to our mission of caring for others. We rely on volunteers to help with an array of efforts, including distributing food and water, helping transport goods to our centers, or even just providing a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on for wildfire survivors.  

Contact your local Salvation Army today to help victims impacted by wildfires. 

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