California Wildfires

"This is one of the worst disasters I've ever seen in my career, hands down," - FEMA  Administrator Brock Long

With its fire-prone climate, California experiences more wildfires than any other state in the U.S.—causing widespread displacement of residents due to property destruction, poor air quality, and extreme heat. After experiencing several back-to-back years of drought, fire seasons in the state are expected to worsen due to climate change.

In 2018,California suffered the most destructive wildfire season on record, with 7,571 fires burning nearly 1.7 million acres; over 23,000 damaged or destroyed structures; and almost 100 fatalities. The catastrophic Camp Fire in the city of Paradise recorded wind speeds that approached 50 mph, which caused the blaze to rapidly spread out of control. Thousands were forced to abandon their homes and vehicles and escape on foot.

In 2020,another devastating fire left the small town of Happy Camp, in northwestern California, in almost complete ruins. The Slater Fire blazed through 157,000 acres and 212 homes. International Relief Teams started rebuilding fire-damaged homes in northern California in 2019, providing skilled construction volunteer teams. These volunteers traveled from across the U.S. to spend a full week working from dawn until dusk, rebuilding homes as fast as possible. Over time, our volunteer groups continued to grow, with 97 volunteers working in Paradise and Happy Camp in 2022, rebuilding a total of 17 homes. Due to the high number of families who are still in need of construction assistance, International Relief Teams will continue rebuilding in these areas for the foreseeable future.

See upcoming open volunteer opportunities for 2023 here.

Watch a news story about our recent team's trip to Paradise, CA here.

Read Patty's story here.

Donate here.

*Photo Credits: Noah Berger/AP (above), Jessica Christian/The Chronicle (thumbnail image on previous page)

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