Three days after the brush fire smothered areas of Santa Clarita Valley, community efforts are still underway to help, and many have reached out through social media wondering how to contribute. Most organizations and volunteer centers have received overwhelming amounts of support — to the point where they are no longer accepting donations. Even so, here are some other ways Southern Californians can still help.
Southern California wildfires can leave devastating damage in their wake. Firefighting efforts before and after the fire are equally important, Angeles National Forest Public Information Officer Andrew Mitchell told KPCC.
"While the fire may be active now, there is a need after the fire is out," he said.
People can volunteer for an assortment of response teams to mitigate post-fire effects. Tasks range from installing barriers to protect against erosion to assisting with debris cleanup. One team is responsible for preserving archaeological grounds that might've been damaged. Mitchell said there are some culturally significant areas in the Sand Fire vicinity.
Whether prospective volunteers have extensive experience with things like tree-cutting equipment or none at all, he said there are still opportunities to lend a hand.
"Especially with a fire of this size, it's going to take a village," he said.
For recreation areas that need to be cleared, all that's required is the ability to pick up a shovel. For those who aren't physically able, there are opportunities to work in visitor centers or public outreach programs to inform people about the dangers of wildfires and fire prevention, which he said is a significant part of the efforts.
Mitchell said that people can sign up on the Angeles National Forest website.
Don't forget about the animals
Over the weekend, community members helped evacuate about 400 animals, including tigers, bobcats and horses from the Wildlife Waystation in Sylmar, but there are still animals in neighboring evacuation zones. The Foothill Trails District Neighborhood Council is looking for volunteers who have trailers, cages and trucks that could transport animals to places like Pierce College. They are currently assisting areas along the Highway 14 corridor, Mollie McDowell, a volunteer for the neighborhood council, told KPCC.
Local residents who require immediate assistance relocating their animals can call 818-473-9771, even if they haven't been asked to evacuate. Volunteers who have knowledge about transporting wildlife or who have proper equipment can send an email to email@example.com.
McDowell said it's important for people keep the roads clear and wait for a call when and if your efforts are needed.
Red Cross shelters
Three shelters in the vicinity are open to residents who have had to evacuate their homes and others who want to escape the heat. Red Cross Director of Communications John Myers told KPCC that the volume of volunteer response and amount of donations has been tremendous — so much that they've had a surplus of water and other supplies.
"We actually have a good problem here where we've met capacity," he said.
Myers said that for people who want to be a part of the solution, one of the best ways to help is through financial donations on their website. Any money you would spend on non-perishables or water can still be used.
- Hart High School, 24825 N. Newhall Avenue, Santa Clarita
- Lake View Terrace Recreation Center, 11075 Foothill Drive, Sylmar
- Highland High School, 39055 25th Street, Palmdale
With 18 homes destroyed by the Sand Fire since Friday afternoon, several crowdfunding campaigns have cropped up in recent days to raise donations for those who suffered losses in the blaze.
It’s important to be wary of any online fundraising campaign that hasn't been vetted. The organizers of the campaigns listed below have either spoken to media organizations about their efforts or have been acknowledged by the fire victims they are raising funds for. We'll post more as they become available.
Firefighter Sergio Loses Home: Firefighter Brandon Opliger set up this $50,000 fund for Sergio Toscano, one of three firefighters who lost their own homes while battling the Sand Fire. Toscano posted a Facebook status update Monday evening thanking donors for their support.
Jan Sanborn’s Home Lost to Wildfire: Jan Sanborn, a recently retired pianist, composer and arranger at CSU Northridge, lost the home she and her husband Loren lived in. The Sanborns were forced to leave their home in the middle of the night and only had time to take with them a few important documents, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. Davis Sannerud, a family friend and employee of CSU Northridge, told the paper he set up the fund to help the couple recoup their losses, as they didn’t have any insurance.
Help Pease Family Rebuild After Fire: Christina and Drew Pease returned to their Sand Canyon home of 17 years this week to find it completely destroyed by the fire. The Peases were featured in KPCC’s reporting earlier this week and reporter Rebecca Plevin has confirmed that they are behind the campaign to raise $50,000 to help get them back on their feet.
Sand Fire Animal/Equine Rescue Fund: Local residents operating a command and control center for animals in Shadow Hills set up this $5,000 fund to support volunteers who have taken in animals during the fire. The funds will be used to buy feed, hay and other supplies, according to the campaign website.
Let us know on Facebook or Twitter about any other ways people can lend a hand.
This story has been updated.