Massive wildfires are sweeping throughout Northern California. So far, they have killed at least 24 people and resulted in hundreds missing. Thousands of homes have been damaged, along with businesses and other buildings.
Firefighters were battling 22 wildfires in several counties on Thursday morning. With intensified winds fanning the fires, it seemed as though the fires would continue to rage. Indeed, strong winds have intensified the fires, charring more than 180,000 acres of land. They have also damaged at least 3,500 structures and forced nearly 20,000 residents to evacuate.
According to ABC News, firefighters are currently battling the fires. A total of 8,000 are on the job, doing their best to squelch the fires and prevent them from spreading. Given the severity of the problem, firefighters are stretched very thin throughout the state.
Federal agencies have had to come to the aid of California fire crews, and so have the crews of surrounding states, including Nevada and Washington. Authorities have claimed that 1,000 fire departments from San Diego to Oregon have joined the effort.
The Baptist Press has reported that Baptist churches have begun a robust effort in helping relief crews squelch the fires. The California Southern Baptist Convention disaster relief crews are also poised for relief work. According to BP, local churches are providing housing and helping to feed the 20,000 people forced to evacuate their homes.
Bob Lawler, the mission catalyst for the Redwood Empire Baptist Association in Vacaville, California, remarked: "There's so much to be done. Our churches are just trying to figure out how to be as helpful as they can."
"It's great to see Christian brothers and sisters jumping into action," Lawler said.
It is consistently the case that Christian communities respond with help and charity during times of natural disaster. Christians have also been at the forefront of recovery efforts in places destroyed by recent hurricanes.
After Hurricane Harvey, according to Christianity Today, several churches located on the higher ground actually served as temporary shelters, or meeting points, for evacuees.
"Nine churches in the Houston area served as temporary shelters for the city until survivors could be moved safely to other venues, such as the downtown convention center where officials are coordinating relief efforts," wrote CT. "One of them, Fallbrook Church in north Houston, has already transported all of its evacuees and closed."
CT reported that Christian communities are on the ground before FEMA since faith-based organizations were already located in the area.
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