California has been hit by over 60 significant fires (burning 1,000 or more acres or causing significant damage) in 2018 and has experienced 7,578 unique fires – over 1.5 million acres of land have been destroyed. Now three fires that started on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 are drawing significant attention due to their location close to major cities and their rapid spread.

The Camp Fire is located in Butte County and within six hours had burned 18,000 acres. At one point it was consuming 80 football fields a minute. All 26,000 people in the town of Paradise, located about 85 miles north of Sacramento were ordered to evacuate. The local fire chief reported that Paradise is “pretty much destroyed” with thousands of structures devastated – an estimated 80 to 90 percent of the town was wiped out by flames. Nearby communities of Chico, Magalia, Concow, Butte Creek Canyon and Butte Valley were also evacuated. As of Friday night, Nov. 16, the fire had burned 146,000 acres and was 50 percent contained. To date, at least 71 deaths have been attributed to this fire. In addition, three firefighters have been injured and more than 1,000 people are unaccounted for. The Camp Fire is now the most destructive and deadliest fire in California history.

In Southern California, a Santa Ana wind affected the spread of the Hill Fire and Woolsey Fire. The Hill Fire started in the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Over the course of a week, the fire burned more than 4,531 acres. By Friday night, Nov. 16, it was 100 percent contained. It affected the same area as the 2013 Springs Fire.

The Woolsey Fire began south of Simi Valley and spread quickly overnight on Thursday. It has claimed three lives, burned 98,362 acres and destroyed 616 structures. The entire town of Oak Park – population approximately 14,000 – has been evacuated and about 30,000 homes are at risk. Mandatory evacuations included Thousand Oaks which was also affected by an active shooter Wednesday, Nov. 7, when a lone gunman killed 12 people, including a police officer, at a country and western bar.

The fire, which forced more than 250,000 people from Malibu to Thousand Oaks to evacuate, was 78 percent contained as of Friday night.

On Monday, Nov. 12, President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for California.

Critical Needs

  • Immediate needs include shelter, food, evacuation support, family reconnection and case management.
  • Recovery needs for each wildfire area vary, but attention should be given to long-term support for rehousing, income recovery, agricultural needs and additional preparedness support to vulnerable populations.
  • As with most disasters, cash donations are recommended by disaster experts as they allow for on-the-ground agencies to direct funds to the greatest area of need, support economic recovery and ensure donation management doesn’t detract from disaster recovery needs.
  • In response to recovery needs that will arise following these devastating wildfires, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy has launched the CDP California Wildfires Recovery Fund. The fund will support medium and long-term recovery needs that will continue to surface throughout the wildfire-affected areas of California in the coming weeks and months.
  • You can also donate to support medium- and long-term recovery in communities affected by these wildfires directly through Google. Just search Camp Fire or Southern California wildfires and click “Donate.”
  • Learn more about our partnership with Google, and how we’re working together to provide donors worldwide the opportunity to be responsive and effective with their disaster giving.


If you are a responding NGO or a donor, please send updates on how you are working in this crisis to tanya.gulliver-garcia@disasterphilanthropy.org.

If you are a donor looking for recommendations on how to help in this crisis, please email regine.webster@disasterphilanthropy.org.

Learn More

  • Foundation Center is tracking philanthropic contributions to the California wildfires. See the latest data
  • California Resources for those affected can be found here.
  • The latest mapping information on California fires can be found here.
  • California Wildfires State Recovery Resources is available here.
  • Read the CDP Wildfire Issue Insight
  • Read CDP funding strategies for wildfires here.
  • Review the CDP Playbook for response strategies and mechanisms.