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Wine country fires have far-reaching effects

By Shengtong Luo

The wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties, which began on Oct. 9 and lasted several days, were among  the biggest fires in California ever. Even in Alameda, people could smell the smoke in the air. And although no homes in the East Bay were threatened, people here were affected indirectly by the fires.

English teacher Chris Veenstra’s parents live in southeastern of Santa Rosa, and his sister lives on the west side. “I heard about the fire before I talked to my parents and my sister,” said Veenstra, whose sister lives closer to the first fire. “I was more worried about my sister at first, but I contacted  them on the same day, and it turns out they were fine.”

Now Veenstra’s parents and sister “both have evacuated and they were worried about what might happen.” Luckily, though his parents were in the mandatory evacuation zone, they are safe as well, and their house was not burned. Unfortunately, “I have several friends whose houses completely burned down,” said Veenstra.

Veenstra said that his parents “had to evacuate the house for several days,” but actually the fire affected the town more. Many people left the town, the business belongs to his parents in town “don’t have a lot of customers.”

Veenstra recommends that people who want to help the fire victims  “check with organization leader who knows exactly what the people need rather than just sending the stuff that you might have.” From his point of view,  “it’s more important if you want to spend the money, contribute resources and you want to find out what exactly people need.”

In addition to family of staff and students who were s affected by the fire, Friends of The Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) also got some animals from the evacuated area. Outreach coordinator Nanou Ballou shared the situation with their new friends.

Ballou pointed out that FAAS “offered to transfer adoptable animals in order to make room for the pets displaced by the fire.” All the animals transferred from Napa County Shelter “were already available for adoption so they were not separated from their family because of the fires.”

Before the fire, FAAS picked up 11 dogs, two cats and two kittens. “They were all in good health and safe,” said Ballou. Now, nine of the dogs, two kittens and one adult cat were already adopted. “We still have two small dogs and an adult cat,” said Ballou.

The pets that were evacuated from Napa County Shelter “were assessed medically and behaviorally while they were here and were put up for adoption,” said Ballou. Staff and volunteers in FAAS are taking care of them until they are adopted.

Ballou mentioned that they still have three available for adoption, the public is welcome to meet these animals. FAAS is a non-profit organization and “we always accept cash and in-kind donations,” said Ballou.

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