INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The American Red Cross of Indiana said it is deploying a crew to the West Coast in an effort to support people affected by the devastating wildfires.
The two Indianapolis volunteers, Deb and Jesse McDaniel, will depart in a state-of-the-art emergency response vehicle and head to Oregon on Friday at around 8 a.m.
Deb and Jesse McDaniel packed up and prepared to face devastation early Friday morning. They said the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle is essential to first responders needing more equipment and that’s why they are making the 36-hour trip to Oregon.
“It’s heartbreaking. I mean, it really is. So much damage and destruction impacting so many people and it just makes us want to help more,” said Deb McDaniel.”
Major wildfires have ravaged the state and the entire West Coast.
As of Friday morning, there had been more than a dozen fire-related deaths in California, Oregon, and Washington state.
Officials said strong winds and dry conditions are continuing to fan the uncontrolled flames.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 4.3 million acres have been scorched from dozens of active fires.
Hundreds of thousands of people are continuing to flee their homes as the landscape is turned into ash.
“Through no fault of their own, these people are out of their homes, may have lost their homes completely. We have been through a lot of different situations, you name it: hurricanes, floods, tornadoes. This is a first for us, the wildfire situation, and from what we have been hearing and seeing, it is very bad out there,” said Jesse McDaniel.
In Oregon, where Indiana volunteers are headed, the governor said they have never seen this amount of fire. The state has nearly forty blazes raging and the average annual fire damage already occurred in only three days.
People in all three states are stunned.
“I have seen tornados, I have seen earthquakes, I have seen waves wash out land in floods. I have never seen anything like this,” said Dale Flanigen, a Washington resident.
Thomas Schultze lives in Estacada, Oregon and when asked about what it looked like, he said “Armageddon.”
“The fires that are going on in the western united states right now are unprecedented even to our most senior leadership and senior-most tenured people on incident management teams in this country. We have not seen this before,” said Tom Clemo, a member of the California Incident Management Team #15.
Fire crews from other states are currently out west doing what they can. Indiana’s Red Cross crew will be joining in the effort to help people left without homes.
If you would like to volunteer or donate to the Indiana Red Cross, you can find out more information here.