Tonight as I sit at our dining room table, looking out at our lovely view of Lake Oroville, all is well in my immediate corner of the world — yet just a few miles away fire fighting efforts continue, the final efforts to contain the “Wall Fire” here in Butte County.
I first noticed the smoke plume from this fire around 4pm on Friday, July 7th, and from our perch here on Kelly Ridge, we saw it explode within a few short hours into a monster that ultimately claimed some 5,600 acres and an estimated 41 homes, 97 structures (at this writing).
Kelly Ridge was under an evacuation “warning” on Saturday 7/8, as this massive fire grew and grew, and although many of our neighbors stayed, we decided to leave at 2am on Sunday 7/9, just a half hour before the Sheriff came knocking on doors, urging people to leave soon. We had spent the day watching, waiting, and thinking about what to bring if we had to leave. Finally, unable to sleep, we called to find a pet friendly hotel in Chico, grabbed our two cats, carriers, a few changes of clothing, some financial papers, tablets and phones, and took off. It was a relief to finally act after a tense day of waiting and wondering. And a relief to settle in for the night somewhere safe and out of the dense smoke.
We stayed one more night, and came back on Monday — our area still under an evacuation “warning” (not mandatory) but now the fire was more contained, and appeared to be moving away us. We were all exhausted (the cats too!), but feel so grateful to find our home still here, our immediate neighborhood untouched. Not so for many in the burn area, who are still staying away, some not even knowing if their homes are still there.
How to help:
Butte County is asking that donations be dropped off to the General Services north parking lot, 2081 Second St. in Oroville between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Items needed include adult and baby diapers, baby wipes, Gatorade, water, ice in ice chests that don’t have to be returned.
The American Red Cross opened the evacuation center at Church of the Nazarene, 2238 Monte Vista Avenue, Oroville. Red Cross volunteers will connect displaced residents with emergency resources, regardless of whether they stay overnight at the shelter, according to Red Cross spokesperson Robin Friedman. Cash contributions can be made at www.redcross.org
The Salvation Army has responded with meals for first responders and victims. The organization is only asking for financial donations at this time. To donate, call 1-800-725-2769 and designate “Wall Fire” or go online at www.salvationarmyusa.org
Cash is also being asked from the North Valley Animal Disaster Group, according to spokesperson Sandra Doolittle. Donations can be made at www.nvadg.org/ or by calling 895-0000.