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NOVEMBER 15, 2018
UNITED STATES

Wildfires Devastate California

Update: The United States branch office has confirmed that, unfortunately, a 70-year-old brother from Paradise, in Northern California, has also died as a result of the Camp Fire.

Three major wildfires in California, United States, have caused catastrophic damage and at least 48 deaths. The largest of the three blazes, known as the Camp Fire, continues to rage on in Northern California, having already burned 117,000 acres (47,000 hectares) and destroyed an estimated 7,100 structures, most of which were homes. In Southern California, two blazes, the Hill Fire and the Woolsey Fire, have burned a combined total of 94,500 acres (38,000 hectares) and destroyed an estimated 435 buildings. According to one media report, the total acreage burned by wildfires in California this year amounts to “an area larger than Belgium and Luxembourg.”

Preliminary reports from the United States branch office indicate that the Camp Fire forced approximately 427 publishers to evacuate from Chico and Paradise. Sadly, an elderly sister from the Ponderosa Congregation was killed by the fire. Additionally, it has been confirmed that, at this time, at least 94 homes of our brothers have been destroyed or suffered major damage. One Kingdom Hall in Paradise was also destroyed.

As a result of the Hill and Woolsey fires, some 420 publishers from the cities of Oxnard, Simi Valley, and Thousand Oaks were evacuated. Sadly, one brother and his non-Witness mother were killed in Malibu while fleeing the fire. Initial assessments indicate that 21 homes of our brothers have been damaged as well as one Kingdom Hall.

The branch office has established two Disaster Relief Committees to care for the needs of our brothers. Under the direction of their circuit overseers, local elders are providing shepherding and practical assistance to the publishers who have been affected by these wildfires. On Saturday, November 10, a special program was held in Chico for more than 270 brothers and sisters. A member of the United States Branch Committee provided encouraging Scriptural thoughts along with the local circuit overseers.

We pray that our brothers and sisters who are dealing with this difficult situation will be comforted and strengthened by Jehovah, remembering that very soon he will wipe away our tears and swallow up death forever.—Isaiah 25:8.