As firefighters from around the state continue to battle the rapidly expanding Rim Fire in Tuolumne County, volunteers with the American Red Cross Capital Region are working hard to meet the needs of evacuated residents. Since Tuesday, Red Cross volunteers have been operating an evacuation shelter in the Manzanita Building at the Sonora Fairgrounds – 220 Southgate Drive in Sonora – where there has been a steady increase in residents as evacuation orders continue to expand.
“This fire has moved quickly and we know the situation can change at a moment’s notice,” said Kathleen Weis, Chief Executive Officer for the Red Cross Capital Region. “We’re in constant communication with the County Emergency Services Office and emergency response agencies to ensure we can anticipate and provide for the needs of those seeking assistance. We have the resources and are ready to help for as long as it takes.”
The Sonora Fairgrounds has made most of their facilities available to the Red Cross for Rim Fire evacuations and has the ability to accommodate as many as 1,000 residents should the need arise. The shelter offers a safe place to sleep, food to eat, restroom and shower facilities, and emergency information. Volunteers are also on hand to provide emotional support and comfort.
What began early in the week as a shelter at a local high school with a population of 4 residents has seen a steady increase as the fire has expanded and more evacuation orders have come through. The shelter has since been relocated to the Sonora Fairgrounds and, as of Thursday night, volunteers were providing assistance to 102 residents.
As the battle for containment on the Rim Fire continues, www.RedCross.org offers a number of important tips and resources residents should do to monitor the situation and prepare should they be asked to evacuate:
- Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
- Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
- Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
- Confine pets to one room so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
- Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.
- Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke.
- Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
- Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. If you do not have air conditioning and it is too hot to stay inside with closed windows, seek shelter elsewhere.
- When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves. Do not vacuum because it stirs up particles that are already inside your home.
- If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your health care provider’s advice and seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.
In the event you have to evacuate the area, items to consider bringing with you should include:
- Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply)
- Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Map(s) of the area
- Other essential items that could not be replaced if they were destroyed
More information can also be found on the free Red Cross Wildfire App. Get the latest fire news from local, state and federal agencies, find shelter information, as well as access preloaded information about what to do before, during and after a wildfire.
Video – Incredible POV shot from inside a C-130 from the California Air National Guard’s 146 Airlift Wing as it lines up for a water drop over the Rim Fire on Thursday, August 22.