It's another gloomy October in California, where wildfires are raging from Mendocino County to Los Angeles.
While smaller fires have popped up in Vallejo and Lafayette; power outages in millions of homes and businesses are effectively shutting down daily life in much of Marin, the East and South Bays, and even as far south as Monterey; and toxic air from smoke and particulate chokes San Francisco and well beyond, the burn in Sonoma County seems only to grow larger and less contained.
As of press time, it is being reported that the Kinkade Fire has spread across more than 50,000 acres with just 5 percent containment, though a current reprieve in the winds today may offer assistance to the fire-fighting efforts. Strong winds, however, are expected to return on Tuesday, and further fan the flames. Meanwhile, thousands have evacuated their homes, buildings and businesses destroyed.
There is the feeling in the air that wildfires are to be a way of life in California; our new normal, as they say. If that's so, then reaching out to lend a hand to our neighbors must also become de rigueur. Here's how you can help the fire relief efforts in Northern California. Please note that we will be regularly updating this list; if you have a helpful tip, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment on Facebook
Help feed evacuees and first responders
Sonoma Family Meal—which was started during the 2017 fires and has been feeding victims ever since—has set up a GoFundMe page so that they can pay the local farmers for the produce and meat being used to feed thousands of evacuees and first responders every day. They are also in need of professional chefs and kitchen helpers. You can sign up to volunteer here.
Or, direct message chef Tyler Florence on Twitter and offer your help this week (especially if you have kitchen experience). Florence, along with World Central Kitchen, is also serving up thousands of meals a day at the Sonoma Fairgrounds. You can also sign up to volunteer here.
Local Sonoma food delivery business Tri-Tip Trolley is also accepting donations for their efforts in feeding first responders via GoFundMe.
Donate funds online.
Red Cross is on the ground in Sonoma County, aiding those who've been displaced. They say one of the best ways individuals can help, currently, is with financial donations. Go to online, call 1.800.red.cross, or text REDCROSS to 909-99 to make a $10 donation.
The Latino Community Foundation's NorCal Wildfire Relief Fund is taking donations to help Latino immigrants and farmhands, who live and work in the impacted area, find shelter, food, and medical care.
Donate non-perishable foods and supplies.
Both the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank (900 Pennsylvania Ave., SF; 415-282-1900) and Redwood Empire Food Bank (3990 Brickway Blvd., Santa Rosa; 707-523-7900) are accepting non-perishable foods and supplies, and spreading the canned food love to evacuation centers. Like always, we recommend calling in advance to see what's needed.
Donate or volunteer at a San Francisco shelter.
Mayor London Breed has announced a state of emergency in response to the ever-growing Kincade Fire, opening the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption (1111 Gough St.; 415-567-2020) as a shelter for those who've been displaced by the blaze. The shelter will be open through Friday, Nov. 1 for now. Call the cathedral to see what is needed.
Open your doors to Kincade Fire refugees.
Go online and purchase wine from your favorite Sonoma County wineries, for many are closed and taking a major tourism hit during this time. Better yet, buy wine from one of the wineries we know has been affected by fire damage to their property, including Soda Rock Winery, Garden Creek Vineyards, and Robert Young Winery.
Plan your next Sonoma trip now.
Start planning a visit to Sonoma County in the coming weeks, especially in Geyserville, Windsor, or Healdsburg. This being harvest season, it is usually the busiest time of year for Wine County businesses. If the 2017 fires are any indication, wineries will suffer from a severe downturn in visitors for months to come.