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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Boles Fire


I'm writing this post with a certain heaviness bearing down on me, a feeling that is worse than anything I've ever felt, and I hope that the words come out the way I mean them to. 
Note: If anything is out of place or incorrect, please contact me immediately so I can fix it.

Boles Fire Tears Through a Small Town

Much of my hometown of Weed, California, was reduced to ashes on Monday in a fire that CalFire is calling "The Boles Fire". It started near the Bole's Creek apartments in town, and within minutes the 40mph wind was carrying embers the size of tennis balls through the town. Fires quickly ignited and joined together, wiping out nearly everything in its path.

More than 100 homes were lost, including my childhood home and everything in it. Luckily, my dad was able to get out of the neighborhood with my sisters just in time, but they weren't able to take anything with them. Not even our pets.

In addition to the homes that were lost, the town also lost a wing of the elementary school, two churches, multiple businesses the helped families in need, the public library, and part of the lumber mill-- the town's main source of jobs and income.

The devastation is unreal, and unlike anything I've ever experienced.

Weed is a small town about fifty miles south of the Oregon/California state line. It's home to a water bottling plant, a mill, and 3000 amazing small-town people. It's a small town, but it's got a big heart. People are pouring in from all over to make donations, to help distribute to those in need, or to help reunite pets and their owners.

But these efforts, as amazing as they are, aren't enough.

How Can I Help?

There are a few places I can direct you!

As of right now, monetary donations are the most important thing. The amount of material donations has been incredible and amazing, but also overwhelming.

This is a fund started to help get me (and my SIL) up to Weed from Los Angeles so I can see my family and give the donations centers the things we’ve collected here-- clothes, shoes, household items, pet supplies, and school supplies. Any money not spent on transportation will go directly into another relief fund.

This is a petition to get some federal aid. Sign and share, easy as that!

This is a community disaster relief fund.

This is another.

This is an article that talks about ways to help and where to donate, but I will also list some of that below.

This is the page for the organized Relief Distribution info. Go here for any and all info on donations and distributions!

Help contribute to the Boles Fire Adopt-a-Family Fund.

I’ve also reached out to a few talk shows that do national headlines at the beginning of their shows (and the Today Show did a spot) as well as Thousand Oaks Acorn, but if you’re interested in sharing with your local news, this is probably the best information to give them. It’s updated as soon as they know something. Also, using #bolesfire on facebook or twitter is a great way to stay informed, as people are posting pictures and updates constantly; same for the area news. Latest townhall recap is here. This facebook page is constantly being updated with needs and opportunities as well.


What Do They Need?

If you are in the area, or if you can get to the area or know someone passing through who can pick things up, here are a few things that are needed as soon as possible:

  • Bottled water-- Check with your drop-off location as some places have plenty of water to hand out.
  • Hygiene items-- This includes (but is not limited to) soaps, shampoos, face washes, feminine hygiene products, contact solution, vitamins, razors, grooming supplies, towels, etc. If you are interested in putting together care packages, please use this builder. Many people will also need brushes, flat irons, etc, but those aren't absolute essentials.
  • Winter wear-- Winter is just around the corner, and Siskiyou county is a cold place with a lot of snowfall and chilling winds. Jackets, snow clothes, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves and a high priority need, as soon as possible.
  • Work wear-- This includes sturdy work books and gloves, protective gear, industrial work pants, kneepads, etc. Many people who work at the mill lost their things, and when cleanup efforts begin, volunteers will need safety clothing when they are allowed to help. Scrubs and business wear are also a huge need!
  • Baby needs-- Anything and everything baby basics. Formula, diapers, jar/can baby food, blankets, clothes of all sizes, pack and plays, small toys, teethers, thermometers, cribs. Anything. Many families with young babies (and many expecting families) lost everything and have to start from square one. They also need car seats! Note: Car seats need to be within expiration date with no accident history and original straps and car seat cover fabric. Normally used car seats are a HUGE no, but in a time like this, it's ok.
  • Clothes-- Mount Shasta and Weed donations centers may not be accepting any more clothing! See my not below! Underwear of all sizes (including bras, socks and nylons). Must be brand new with tags and/or packaging. Pajamas.
  • Pet supplies-- Anything and everything for pets is needed. The shelters are overflowing and they need enough to go around!
  • Home needs-- Blankets! So many blankets! And of course there is a need for pillows, bedding, beds, towels, paper products, appliances, and furniture. This will be needed once the victims find housing, but if you have something you'd like to donate and hold, let me know! Many people are also being given discounted storage units.
  • Storage containers-- Tupperware tubs, crates, boxes, suitcases. Anything for the victims to hold their belongings!
  • Textbooks/technology/school supplies-- The elementary school lost a lot of things in the fire. I will have a contact number at the bottom of this post where the school can be reached if you have a bulk donation you can give. Also, many college students lost their textbooks and laptops, and will be needing those as soon as possible, as college classes at College of the Siskiyous could resume as early as tomorrow.
  • Books-- The library is now nothing more than metal shelves and framework. The county library system is connected and they might be able to help, but new/EUC books will be needed soon! Address/info below!
  • Non-perishable food items-- This includes canned goods, dry foods, etc. 
  • Your time!-- If you are in the area or you know someone who is and can volunteer, please do so. The amount of donations from the community (and surrounding communities) is both amazing and overwhelming. They need sorters, distributors, and people to just lend a hand in general.


If you can help by donating your time and/or money, please do. If you can't, please help to spread the word.

Where can I donate?

If you live in the Conejo Valley, I am located in Thousand Oaks and accepting donations to take up to Weed soon. Please, no furniture at this time.

If you are not in the Conejo Valley or would like to contribute other ways (mail, check, etc.), here are some options:

If you have a need, know someone who has a need, or want to give, click here!

For a huge list of donation sites and ways to help, click here!

UMCOR is a great group working in Weed right now!

US Bank is accepting donations. Go in and ask how you can donate to the victims of the Boles Fire.

Donations by mail (clothes/supplies/etc):
Northern Valley Catholic Social Service

NVCSS Siskiyou County
326 W Miner St.

Yreka, CA 96097

Drop-offs:

Note: For all drop-off locations, please speak to someone in charge to double-check with immediate needs. Some locations need some things more than others, and needs change constantly depending on how many people pick things up.

Pet Supplies:
Humane Society--
1208 N Mt Shasta Blvd
Mount Shasta, California

Shasta Sanctuary--
Monetary donations to PayPal. Account email shastasanctuary@live.com

A Special Note to Pet Owners: Many pets are being brought to Cal Fire and the Humane society! Check the Humane Society's facebook page for udpdates!


Donations:
Hope Community Church
974 Lassen Ln
Mt Shasta, CA 96067
Needs here are:
Deodorant, Toilet Paper, Paper Plates, Plastic Cutlery, Laundry Soap, Non-Perishable Snack Items, Can Openers, Plastic Totes (10 Gallon), 1st Aid Supplies, Dish Soap, and Gift Cards to places for food and supplies. Please no clothes at this time.


Cleanrite Buildrite
1200 W. East Ave
Chico, CA 95926
(530) 891-0333

Life Foursquare Church
900 North St. Yreka, Calif
96097
530-842-5433
Call ahead of time if you want to bring clothes, just in case.

Fred's Towing
 2638 Old US 99
Yreka, CA 96097
Needs:
- diapers
- infant, toddler, and children's clothing
- toothpaste & toothbrushes
- tampons
- pajamas (adult & children)
- new underwear (adult & children)

550 Park Street
Weed, Ca
(Located behind the Merc next to the post office)
Needs: No clothes, please. Needs shelving and tables for the site!

Lake Shastina PD
16309 Everhart Drive
Weed, Ca

First Southern Baptist Church
921 S Oregon St,
Yreka
Accepting clothes and large-load donations


School Supplies: The school is still assessing the damage, but if you would like to make a donation, please contact the office at (530) 938-2715 and someone will get back to you as soon as they can.

Books: Donated books will play a huge role in rebuilding the library, but monetary donations are most important at this time! Checks can be made payable to "Weed Friends of the Library" and can be sent to:

Weed Library Rebuild c/o Vestal Foundation
PO Box 117
Yreka, Ca 96097

If you are interested in donating new/excellent used condition books, contact Yreka library at 5308414178 or library@co.siskiyou.ca.us

And as always, prayers are greatly appreciated!

Special note to Boles Fire victims, families, and friends: A grief/loss gathering is scheduled this weekend. Click here for more info.

New warning: I was informed that there are looters going in to houses and cars that are still intact. Disgusting. If you see or hear about this, please do not try to take matters into your own hands (as much as I personally would love to, there are professionals for this). Report it to authorities right away! Weed PD: (530) 938-5000, Lake Shastina PD: (530) 938-4113


Fire resource list:



Pictures:



My parents' home on Arbaugh St. Taken a few years ago by Deb Harton

What is left of my parents' home, and their vehicles. Taken the day of the fire.
Credit: GREG BARNETTE/RECORD SEARCHLIGHT 
All that remains of Holy Family Catholic Church
Credit: Ann Wagner [click link for more pictures]
The skeletons of homes after the Boles Fire tore through neighborhoods.
Credit: Ann Wagner [click link for more pictures]
A woodchip pile burns at Roseburg Forest Products in Weed, Ca.
Credit: Ann Wagner [click link for more pictures]

Aerial view of Angel Valley, taken Tuesday September 16.
My parents' house was in that black circle.
Credit: Cal Fire

Fire tears through Roseburg Forest Products in Weed, Ca.
Credit: Ann Wagner [click link for more pictures]

A rainbow hugs Weed, Ca, after some much-needed rainfall in the wake of the Boles Fire.
Credit: Ann Wagner [click link for more pictures]



Again: If any of this information is false or written incorrectly, or if you have any more information to add, I can be reached here [note: comments on this post are not coming through the way they should, so that is not an effective means of contact at this time]:

8053684405 -- call or text
renaemcbrian1@gmail.com 


Edited 9/17/14 at 5pm-- I first said that the fire started next to the school, but I was informed that it started elsewhere, so I've changed it.

Edited 9/17/14 at 5:10pm-- Updated the needs of Hope Community Church, added phone number for Life Foursquare Church

Edited 9/17/14 at 5:40pm-- Added a warning about looters. Added a section about reuniting with pets.

Edited 9/17/14 at 7:35pm-- Added a new drop-off location. Fixed typos.

Edited 9/17/14 at 9:45pm-- Added new donation links.

Edited 9/18/14 at 2:05pm-- Changed drop-off locations. Added grief gathering info and new pictures.

Edited 9/18/14 at 10:15pm-- Changed drop-off info, needs list, and added a few sites for people to check where to donate and how.

Edited 9/19/14 at 9:45am-- Updated town hall recap link. Note: If you plan on returning to your residence today, please read this recap and stay safe!

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