How to help victims of the Southern California wildfires

Devastating wildfires are continuing to burn in areas of Southern California — and hundreds of thousands of people are in need of help.

Numerous nonprofits are providing support on the ground for the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and the several other fires burning in Southern California.

But be on alert: The Ventura County district attorney warned the public on Dec. 6 about people taking advantage of fire victims by creating fake charities online, as well as illegal price gouging.

Here’s how you can support the fire victims and evacuees:

Thomas Fire Fund

The United Way of Ventura County, American Red Cross of Ventura County and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services have teamed up to create the Thomas Fire Fund.

Donations can be made by texting UWVC to 41444, on United Way of Ventura County’s website or over the phone at 805-485-6288.

Checks with “Thomas Fire Fund” in the memo line can be mailed to 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, CA 93003.


GoFundMe has created a centralized hub for dozens of verified campaigns aimed at providing help for those affected by the wildfires.

If you can’t decide which to donate to, there is a Direct Impact Fund listed at the top of the page that supports a number of campaigns connected to the fires.

A GoFundMe has also been set up for the family of Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, who died while working to turn back the fire.

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Red Cross

The Red Cross is accepting applications for volunteers on its website.

Those who wish to make cash donations can do so on or over the phone by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.


YouCaring, an online crowd-funding platform, has created a landing page with all of its campaigns for Southern California wildfire relief.

Humane Society of Ventura County

The Humane Society of Ventura County is in need of donations after taking in hundreds of animals since the fires began on Dec. 4.

A Facebook post on Dec. 7 said the best way to support rescue efforts is to make a monetary donation through the organization’s website.

“Over the coming months the cost will be phenomenal,” the post said, “and we will need financial donations to pay for the care of animals displaced by the Thomas Fire.”

The organization also set up a registry wishlist on with items needed to care for the diverse group of animals currently in its care.

Salvation Army Ventura Corps

The Salvation Army Ventura Corps also is asking for monetary donations, which can be done by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or visiting the organization’s website.

“As of Monday morning, we have an abundance of material donations, and are unable to accept more,” said a Dec. 11 Facebook post.

Direct Relief

Santa Barbara-based Direct Relief has responded to the fires with items requested by local health-care providers, including N-95 respiratory masks and emergency health kits full of emergency medicines and supplies.

To donate, visit, click “Direct my donation to” and choose “Southern California Wildfires.” Direct Relief says it is committed to ensuring that 100 percent of funds designated by donors for relief of the Southern California wildfires will go to that cause.

Ventura County Community Disaster Relief Fund

The Ventura County Community Disaster Relief Fund, created by the Ventura County Community Foundation, supports organizations providing shelter and long-term housing, legal services, education, healthcare and other immediate and long-term needs of those affected by the Thomas Fire.

CCF Wildfire Relief Fund

The CCF Wildfire Relief Fund supports intermediate and long-term recovery efforts for major California wildfires, as well as preparedness efforts.

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Advice for fire victims

(1) Contact your insurance companies. Most will cover hotel stays, apart from the usual coverage.

(2) Call your credit card companies and have the last 3-6 months of your purchases reimbursed back (get a police report that testifies you are a fire victim).

(3) If you are renting and are a minor, your parents’ home insurance may cover your belongings.

(4) Call your chain retail stores and see what they can offer to fire victims.

The Sacramento Bee contributed to this report.