Portland, OR. The American Red Cross is on the ground where thousands of people are impacted by wildfires. Trained Red Cross disaster workers are working around the clock to open or support shelters and evacuation centers. They’re helping out with the nation’s largest fire, Oregon’s Bootleg Fire which started on July 6th and is still burning 28 miles northeast of Klamath Falls. The wildfire is approximately 42% contained as of July 25th and has burned over 401,000 acres. Click here for a link to the current information about the Bootleg Fire.
The National Preparedness Level has been raised to 5, the highest level of wildfire activity. This is the earliest to reach that level in 10 years.
Several weeks ago, experts predicted 2021’s wildfire season could be extremely dangerous due to the severe drought occurring over much of the western half of the country following back-to-back years of record-breaking wildfire seasons.
According to the Oregon State Fire Marshal, over 2,224 people have been deployed to fight the Bootleg Fire including these firefighters from the Sisters area.
The National Interagency Fire Center reports 68 large fires have scorched more than a million acres in 12 states this fire season, including the Bootleg Fire seen above.
The Red Cross urges everyone in wildfire-prone areas to get ready now.
States reporting large wildfires include Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Alaska, Washington, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Minnesota.
Here’s the information from the American Red Cross about staying up to date as wildfire season progresses:
IF YOU NEED TO GO TO A SHELTER Follow any evacuation orders from officials. To find an open shelter, visit redcross.org or download the free Red Cross app “Emergency” and view open facilities. If you don’t have access to a computer or smartphone, call 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767).
We encourage anyone coming to a Red Cross emergency shelter to bring personal items for each member of their family, including prescription and emergency medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents and other comfort items. It’s also important to bring special items for children, such as diapers, formula and toys, and other items for family members who have unique needs.
In addition to the free Red Cross app “Emergency”, the Red Cross First Aid app gives you instant access to information on handling common first aid scenarios, including heat emergencies. Download for free here or search for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store.
HOW YOU CAN HELP You can help people affected by disasters like wildfires and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS Keep track of the weather, fires near you and listen to instructions from local authorities. Be ready to leave quickly with your emergency kit. You might not get an official notice to evacuate. Be ready to leave if local authorities tell you to evacuate, or if you feel you are in danger
- Shut all windows and doors. Remove flammable window shades, curtains, and close metal shutters.
- Move flammable furniture to the center of the room, away from windows and doors.
- Shut off gas at the meter; turn off pilot lights. Shut off the air conditioning.
- Gather up flammable items from the exterior of the house and bring them inside (patio furniture, toys, trash cans).
- Turn off propane tanks. Move propane BBQ appliances away from structures.
- Don’t leave sprinklers on or water running, they can affect critical water pressure.
- Back your loaded car into the driveway and keep all doors and windows closed.
- Ensure your emergency supplies kit is in your vehicle.
- Locate your pets and take them with you.
RED CROSS WILL PROVIDE SAFE SHELTER The Red Cross will continue to make sure people have a safe place to stay, food to eat, and resources to help them recover after a disaster, a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency plans and the scale of the disaster. In most cases this year, we will open group shelters. However, in some communities, hotels may still be more appropriate if the risk of COVID-19 is particularly high. The Red Cross will also keep many of the safety precautions implemented in 2020. These include masks, health screenings, enhanced cleaning procedures, and encouraging social distancing.