By now many of you have heard of the "Camp Fire" which has been raging here in Northern California. This fire has now become the deadliest and most devastating wildfire in California history. As of this writing, the death toll is at 71 and is bound to rise considering the number of missing persons. The fire has burnt 146,000 acres, it is currently 50% contained. So far 9,844 residences, 336 commercial, 2,067 other buildings have also been destroyed. Sts. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Mission, here in Chico, is only 15 minutes from the town of Paradise, the town which has been completely devastated by this fire. The two towns of Chico and Paradise are closely intertwined, as many people live in Paradise and work in Chico.
Along with thousands of other people, five of our own parishioners have lost their homes as well. Most importantly, we are thankful to God that they all made it out alive! Their stories are harrowing! Many of them drove through flames while evacuating. The fire advanced very quickly and they received no advanced warning from any official source, and fled their homes with very little! We are glad that they are safe and being taken care of by friends, relatives, and fellow parishioners, but they are now left with the task of having to rebuild their lives.
We look forward to helping our parishioners and others within our local community get back on their feet. It will be a long road, but we know that tragedy also has the capacity to bring us closer together and remind us of what is truly important: our unity in Christ and our love for our neighbor. We are setting up a "fire relief" fund to help our parishioners and others affected. We appreciate your prayers and donations to those suffering in our community.
Donations may be sent to:
So. Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Church
2956 Cohasset Rd
Chico, California 95973-0921
Fr. Ian Shipley