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Chancellor Leland: California Wildfires and How You Can Help

October 11, 2017

Dear Campus Community,

The wildfires burning in Sonoma County and elsewhere are bringing unhealthy air into the Merced community, and we will continue to post air quality alerts and alert the campus community if the situation worsens.  For now, avoid being outside as much as possible and consider wearing an air mask.  

We can only imagine how much worse the situation is in the communities directly affected by these fires.  Our hearts especially go out today to the thousands of people — including more than 115 UC Merced students — whose lives, families and homes have been severely impacted.  Thousands of people are displaced and in need, including my colleague and friend, Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki and her husband, Patrick McCullum, whose home was destroyed.

The Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County is one of many harsh reminders of the danger that arrives each summer and fall in our beautiful state. As we learned this morning, hundreds of people are missing and 17 people have died throughout the state so far, including 11 in the Tubbs Fire, making it the deadliest wildfire since 2003. CalFire has updated information on the various fires online, if you want to stay connected.

The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning for many areas of the state, including the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin Valley today, which means conditions for fighting fires are not likely to improve soon. The warning extends from south of San Jose up through Redding and includes Sonoma and Napa Counties, in the Northern Sierra foothills, East Bay hills and Mt. Diablo range, according to news sources.

As in all disasters, many of us feel compelled to help in any way we can. The Sacramento Bee has collected a long list of opportunities for people who want to do so, and this will be updated as needs continue to change:

Please do what you can and keep your fellow Californians.


Dorothy Leland