If there’s something positive to be said about the catastrophic fire that swept through lower Lake County it concerns the many homes, schools and businesses that were spared the devastating touch of this historic inferno. For that, all credit is due to the heroic efforts of the more than 2,000 firefighters who put themselves in harm’s way to save these structures.
As residents of Middletown, Cobb and Hidden Valley have been returning to their homes one truth emerges: In terms of loss of life and loss of property, this fire could have been far worse. High praise to all those in helmets and turnout gear.
Praise also is due to the many individuals and organizations throughout the North Coast who have responded in ways small and large to help victims of the Valley fire. Cub Scouts from Pack 134 in Santa Rosa, with the help of a Red Cross representative, for example, spent Thursday night building sifter boxes to help fire victims sift through the ashes of their homes in hopes of finding valuables and keepsakes. Rincon Valley Middle School canceled a dance and instead joined forces with Maria Carrillo High School students in putting together a walkathon that raised $22,300 for evacuees, including some Middletown students who joined in the festivities Friday evening. And members of First Presbyterian Church in Santa Rosa are teaming up with a Middletown teacher in donating stocked backpacks for school children. Although all of the schools in the area survived the fire, the same can not be said for the books and supplies belonging to students whose homes perished. “This will make students transitioning back to school much easier,” Jake Dean, a teacher at Middletown Middle School, told the congregation Sunday.
For those looking, there are still many meaning ways to contribute. According to emergency officials, certain kind of donations are still being accepted on behalf of those at the evacuation center in Calistoga. Needed items include battery-operated camping lanterns (with batteries), flashlights and headlamps, plus-sized clothing and undergarments, coats and jackets in all sizes, new beanies and sun hats, sunscreen, lip balm, hair ties and waterproof storage containers in all sizes.
Items such as toilet paper, baby items, water, and clothing (except for the coats and plus-size clothing noted above) are not needed. Donations can be dropped off at the Calistoga Beverage Co. at 865 Silverado Trail North in Calistoga every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For those interested in volunteering, the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership is coordinating volunteers at the Valley Fire Shelter in Calistoga. Community members interested in volunteering may register at: http://volunteer.cvnl.org/need/detail/?need_id=143893
Monetary donations be made to the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/donate.
Readers also may join in a relief effort set up by the Redwood Credit Union and The Press Democrat which so far has generated more than $810,000 in pledges. Donations can be made at www.redwoodcu.org/lakecountyfirevictims or by sending checks payable to Lake County Fire Victims Fire Relief, c/o Redwood Credit Union, P.O. Box 6104, Santa Rosa, CA 95406.
Donations also can be made online by going to pressdemocrat.com and clicking on the Fire Victims Fire Relief fund ad.