During the night of Sunday 10/8, a series of wildfires began sweeping across Northern California, driven by strong winds and fed by extremely dry conditions. The fires, of which there have been dozens, collectively rank as the deadliest in California. Although wildfires are common in the region, these have affected not only uninhabited terrain but also suburban areas, burning acres of wildlands and residential areas and destroying nearly 6,000 homes and other buildings. At least 41 people have been killed, and others remain missing; some neighborhoods have burned to the ground. Evacuation orders went into effect; in Sonoma County alone, 25,000 people left their homes, and as winds changed the evacuation zones widened. The situation has been declared a major disaster, and shelters are open throughout the area. Some residents are now returning to their property, and a long response is anticipated.
IOCC is collaborating with local Orthodox churches, the Northern California VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), and other local and national partners to identify needs and determine how IOCC can most effectively respond.
IOCC Frontliners, highly trained clergy and laypeople, are standing by for possible deployment to the area to offer emotional and spiritual care and conduct rapid needs assessments.
In addition, IOCC staff is maintaining contact with local hierarchs, priests, parish communities, and other partners to monitor the shifting situation on the ground and in order to determine the most appropriate response.