Caldor Fire: How to Help Tahoe Wildfire Survivors — and How to Find Help Yourself

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A line of cars full of evacuees leaving South Lake Tahoe
Traffic backs up on Highway 50 as people evacuate ahead of the Caldor Fire on Aug. 30, 2021, in South Lake Tahoe, California. The fire continues to advance toward South Lake Tahoe and a red flag warning has been issued as high winds begin to kick up. The fire has burned over 175,000 acres, destroyed hundreds of homes and is currently 14% contained. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As the fast-moving Caldor Fire continues to destroy homes and buildings, force evacuations and cause devastation in the Sierra Nevada, you might be wondering: How can I help those affected the most?

Or maybe you've been directly affected yourself by the Caldor Fire — and perhaps even had to evacuate your home — and are yourself searching for places to access support for wildfire survivors.

Keep reading for a list of organizations that are asking for support and donations, or jump to information on how to apply for relief funds and get support if you've been affected yourself.

Prepare for a Possible Evacuation

We'll continue to update this list.

How to help, where to donate

For a lot of people in the Bay Area, the impact on the beloved Lake Tahoe region is particularly wrenching to watch from afar, whether they have strong family or community ties to the area or a deep appreciation for its incredible natural beauty as a visitor.

But remember: One of the ways you can truly support people around Lake Tahoe is to stay away from Lake Tahoe and the surrounding areas right now.

As early as Aug. 26, the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority was "recommending visitors postpone any immediate travel plans to the area." And now, all national forests in California will be closed because of fire risk starting Tuesday at midnight and lasting through at least Sept. 17. Keeping away from Tahoe right now will leave roads clearer for evacuation routes, and hotel rooms available to fire evacuees who need them.

Here are just some of the organizations currently seeking your support and donations for Caldor Fire survivors:

El Dorado Community Foundation

The El Dorado Community Foundation mounted a Caldor Fire Fund within days of the fire breaking out, and is continuing to redistribute funds to those displaced by the wildfire. Funds are given to those who need them in the form of a Visa prepaid card.

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California Fire Foundation

The California Fire Foundation is a nonprofit providing "emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters and the communities they protect." Their Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program is designed to bring immediate financial relief to victims of fire, and equips frontline firefighters with SAVE gift cards worth $250 to provide to victims, for them to purchase necessities like clothing, food and medicines.

Amador Community Foundation

The Amador Community Foundation is fundraising not only for Amador residents affected by the Caldor Fire, but also for El Dorado residents who are evacuated into Amador. The foundation says that donations can either be made to their large animal rescue fund or their disaster relief fund.

Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless

Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless has been partnering with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department to support evacuations of the city's unhoused community.

Personal GoFundMe fundraisers

The fundraising platform GoFundMe has created a centralized webpage to collect personal GoFundMe campaigns intended to raise funds for a specific person, family, group or cause. You can also donate to the GoFundMe general fund for people affected by wildfire in Northern California.

GoFundMe says that all fundraisers on this page have been verified  by GoFundMe staffers who are "focused on interacting with organizers and donors, reviewing and vetting fundraisers related to the Caldor Fire, along with all fires burning across the west coast."

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is helping to provide meals to Caldor Fire shelters, as well as "emotional spiritual care support to fire evacuees."

Preparing An Emergency Bag

Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada

Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada offers food, clothing and shelter to people regardless of denomination, and has created a 2021 Caldor Fire Fund to get gift cards into the hands of fire evacuees.

Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada also has been providing bilingual assistance to folks evacuating from South Lake Tahoe, offering aid and information in Spanish through their Resource Hub. Call (775) 322-7073, then extension 330.

Placerville Food Co-op grocery bag donation

The Placerville Food Co-op has mounted a Caldor Fire relief grocery bag donation program for folks affected by the Caldor Fire. Donors can pay for a bag of groceries online, and the co-op will get those groceries into the hands of fire survivors.

Food Bank of El Dorado County

Food Bank of El Dorado County gets meals and groceries to those who need them through multiple distribution sites, and is offering these to Caldor Fire survivors.

Hands4Hope

Hands4Hope, a youth-driven nonprofit, is working with the El Dorado Community Foundation to connect Caldor Fire evacuees with services they need at this time. While they ask people wanting to donate money to make those donations via the El Dorado Community Foundation, Hands 4 Hope is also requesting specific in-kind donations like batteries, laundry supplies, sleeping bags and bug spray for evacuees.

The Red Cross

The Red Cross is staffing evacuation shelters and providing support to fire evacuees during the Caldor Fire.

  • Donate to the Red Cross California Gold Country Region.
  • You can also call (800) HELP NOW, or (800) 435-7669.
  • If donating online, select "Disaster Relief" or "Your Local Red Cross" from the "I want to support" drop-down list. If you choose to mail a check, the Red Cross recommends that you write "Western Wildfires" in the memo line of the check.

Help Sierra Breathe

Help Sierra Breathe is a coalition of mutual aid organizations — including Mask Oakland in the Bay Area — working to bring N95 masks to people in the Sierra affected by the dangerous smoke from  the Caldor Fire.

Where to find help and access support if you're a Caldor Fire survivor

El Dorado Community Foundation

The El Dorado Community Foundation's Caldor Fire Fund is continuing to redistribute funds to those displaced by the wildfire. Funds are given to those who need them in the form of a Visa prepaid card.

El Dorado residents under a mandatory evacuation order in the Tahoe area — which includes the area from Kyburz through South Lake Tahoe to the Nevada border — can apply to receive relief from the funds raised. The foundation also has tutorials available online that walk would-be applicants through the process. For a full list of eligibility requirements, visit the foundation's website.

Red Cross

The Red Cross is staffing evacuation shelters and providing support to fire evacuees during the Caldor Fire.

  • Find your nearest Red Cross shelter.
  • For assistance, you can call the Red Cross at (855) 755-7711. The Red Cross can provide information to wildfire survivors and evacuees around recovery planning, and also talk about individual financial assistance.

Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada

Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada offers food, clothing and shelter to people regardless of denomination, and has created a 2021 Caldor Fire Fund to get gift cards into the hands of fire evacuees.

  • For information on how to access resources, call their Resource Hub at (775) 322-7073, then extension 330.
  • They have been providing bilingual assistance to folks evacuating from South Lake Tahoe, offering aid and information in Spanish through their Resource Hub.
  • They also are offering hot meals and groceries at their Reno headquarters:

  • The Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada's building at 500 E. Fourth Street, Reno, Nevada 89512 is offering information, clothing, water, food boxes and help with getting ID cards if they're lost (note: does not cover driver's licenses). The charity stresses that it offers very limited financial assistance to help pay for a temporary apartment/housing. Building hours: M./T./Th./Fri.: 9 a.m.-12 p.m., 1 p.m.-4 p.m.; W. 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Food Bank of El Dorado County

Food Bank of El Dorado County gets meals and groceries to those who need them through multiple distribution sites, and is offering these to Caldor Fire survivors.

KQED will continue to update this list as more information becomes available. KQED's Christopher Martinez, Marlena Jackson-Retondo, Lina Blanco and Carlos Cabrera-Lomelí contributed to this story.

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