In early Oct. 2017,  deadly wildfires ravaged Northern California, leaving communities devasted. Dozens of people lost their lives and thousands were forced to flee their homes.

   In total, there were 17 separate fires which blazed throughout Napa, Lake, Sonoma, Mendocino, Butte, and Solano Counties. Prior to the fire’s outbreak, there were severe fire weather conditions.

   Due to the extreme conditions, shortly after the fires were ignited on Oct. 8 and 9, the fires rapidly grew into full scale incidents spanning from 1,000 acres to 20,000 acres each within a single day.

   By Oct. 14, the fires all together had burned more than 210,000 acres, destroyed 5,700 structures, forced 90,000 people to evacuate their homes, hospitalized 185 people, and killed 42 people.

   Collectively, the week of Oct. 8 constitutes the largest loss of life due to wildfires in the United States since the Cloquet Fire in 1918.

   Most of the immediate damage has been centralized in Napa and Sonoma Counties, but the effects of the fires have been felt all over the Bay Area as smoke and ash blew south towards the East Bay and the Peninsula.

   As of Oct. 12, the cause of the fires has remained under investigation.

   The Pinewood faculty has also been doing their part in serving the victims of the fires. Alumni Relations head Michelle Isaac is one of the Pinewood staff who volunteered to help those evacuated by the disaster. “I volunteered at Elsie Allen High School in Santa Rosa and witnessed the sadness of people who had lost their homes. That high school is being used as an evacuation center, and they have a small gym and a big gym occupied with people who lost their homes,” Isaac said.

   While there are large amounts of donations coming in from many sources there are still a shortage of certain items. “[They need] plastic bins, new underwear, new socks, baby food, and gift cards,” Isaac said.

   Isaac has recommended several charities for those interested in donating to the victims of the fire. “For a global impact, I always recommend The Red Cross. The city of Santa Rosa also set up a YouCaring page to assist Tubbs Fire victims. A slew of Bay Area sports teams pledged $450,000 on a YouCaring page and have invited fans to contribute,” Isaac said.

   Overall, Isaac has had a positive experience volunteering to help the victims of the disaster. “The best part is that I feel like I have comforted someone in need,” Isaac said.