Fairgrounds Host California Fire Evacuees

As the deadliest wildfires in California history continue to spread, bringing the death toll to 31 and climbing, a number of the state’s local fairs as well as the State Fair have come forward to provide emergency shelter for people and animals, and to act as fire camps, according to the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

It is one of the many ways the state’s fairs, known for showing off California’s agricultural bonanza, serve their communities in times of need. As of Thursday, 17 fairgrounds, from Costa Mesa to Boonville, were hosting approximately 2,000 evacuees; nearly 1,700 animals, including horses, llamas, and even a tortoise; and 7,261 emergency response personnel and their equipment.

Meanwhile earlier today, Joseph E. Gallo, chief executive officer of the E. & J. Gallo Winery, announced the family-owned company is donating $1 million to aid the fire recovery effort. The money will be divided among the American Red Cross California Wildfires Relief Fund, the Community Foundation of Sonoma, and the Napa Valley Community Foundation. In addition, Gallo will match employee donations two-for-one.

“It is devastating to learn that our colleagues, friends, growers and neighbors have suffered such great losses,” said Gallo. “We hope they are given the strength, fortitude, and endurance to deal with these adversities.”

The California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) issued a statement saying they are saddened by the loss of lives, structures and property due to wildfires in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties.

“In the coming days, we will have a clearer picture of the extent of damage that has occurred to vineyards and wineries and the response needed to aid recovery,” CAWG President John Aguirre said. “Until then, our thoughts and prayers go to all of those impacted by this unfolding disaster and to the men and women who are bravely battling these fires.”

CAWG will work with members of the California Congressional delegation, key federal officials, and other wine industry organizations to ensure adequate resources are provided for disaster response and recovery efforts.

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