Wildfires throughout California have delivered total and utter devastation this week, burning thousands of structures and taking more than 20 lives.
Eight separate wildfires are ravaging Northern California, including several in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, and others in the Diocese of Sacramento, with yet additional fires throughout the state. The hardest hit areas have seen entire neighborhoods and some wineries entirely burned to the ground. With more than 170,000 acres and 3,500 structures already burned, another 29,000 structures are still threatened, and strong winds are expected to continue through the weekend. Many residents are in evacuation centers without knowing if they still have a home.
Some parishes have become evacuation centers while others have fallen victim to the fire.
In Santa Rosa, Cardinal Newman High School and the adjacent elementary school, St. Rose, suffered tremendous damage to several buildings including the total destruction of the school’s preschool building. The schools will remain closed for at least two weeks.
Bishop Robert F. Vasa, who is visiting shelters and providing updates from his car since the diocesan offices are in the evacuation zone, wrote, “Thousands of volunteers are spending countless hours showing their desire to share in the suffering of those displaced by the fire. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” (Read the statement in its entirety here.)
While the cause of each fire remains unknown, we ask that you join in prayer and generosity of resources for all victims. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has also issued a national call for prayers. You can read it here. For more information on how to help, click visit Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa.