Local Responds to Mendocino Fires

Courtesy photo    Alamedan Susanne La Faver stands among some of the many Red Cross volunteers at the Ranch Fire that continues to burn in Lake County.

Red Cross volunteer La Faver supports fire victims

Susanne La Faver has served as a volunteer with the American Red Cross since 1991. Last year she worked in the Florida Keys during Hurricane Irma, as well as at the fires that devastated Santa Rosa. As part of her more recent duties, she represented the Red Cross at the Mendocino Complex Fire, which is still burning today. 

On Tuesday, Aug. 14, Cal Fire reported that the complex, comprised of the River and Ranch fires, continues to burn north and west of Clear Lake: the River Fire in Mendocino County, is 100 percent contained, while the Ranch Fire in Lake County is 68 percent contained. Cal Fire does not expect to fully contain the Ranch Fire until sometime next month.  

The Red Cross is at these fires and many of the 14 other fires burning across the state. “We provide shelter, food and comfort for people forced to leave their homes with little notice,” said La Faver, who lives in Alameda. She is no stranger to the area where the Ranch Fire is burning. She once made her home in Hidden Valley Lake, some 50 miles from the fire. La Faver was working for the Red Cross during the “29 Fire” in October 2012 that burned not far from her home at the time, as well as the Butts Canyon Fire that burned in Lake County in 2014. 

“My job is to find and tell the Red Cross story,” La Faver said. Earlier this month, she visited Red Cross workers in Lake County who continue to work alongside government and community partners at the Ranch Fire. While there she interviewed a veteran and his wife impacted by the fire.  

La Faver spoke with Dean and Patricia Ebbeson at a Red Cross shelter. La Faver wrote that the couple not only found safety and comfort, but “also came across valuable new military veteran benefits.” Red Cross volunteers gave the Ebbersons a pamphlet that explained those benefits and led them to Douglas Bratholt of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).

In her story, La Faver explained that Bratholt works alongside the Red Cross to connect with veterans fleeing the fires. The veterans receive $50 gift cards as well as enrollment forms for VA health care and non-service related pensions. On Aug. 3, when La Faver interviewed Bratholt for her story, he had already contacted 30 veterans who had fallen victim to the Mendocino Complex Fire.

The Red Cross is taking donations to help fire victims online at www.redcross.org/donate/donation.html. Readers can also donate by text or by phone — text REDCROSS to 90999 to have a $10 donation billed to their wireless carriers or call 800-RED-CROSS (733-2767) to give any amount.