Southern California isn’t technically a desert but with less than 15 inches of rainfall per year in just Los Angeles, the area remains dry and prone to fast-moving and devastating wildfires.

Earlier this week, a brush fire in Ventura County — which has been named the Thomas Fire — quickly expanded due to the Santa Ana winds and has since burned 65,500 acres, forced 27,000 people to flee, and caused Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

Victims of the fire need your help NOW and our friends at United Way of Ventura County (UWVC) are ready to assist. They’ve formed a strategic partnership with the American Red Cross of Ventura County and the Ventura County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services that will be vital in helping the community recover.

You can support by donating to the Thomas Fire Fund online at or via phone by calling 805-485-6288. Donations can also be made by texting UWVC to 41444. Checks may be sent to the United Way office at 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, CA 93003. Please write “Thomas Fire Fund” in the memo. 100% of the donations received will support those affected by the wildfire.

“In the aftermath of spontaneous disasters, many generous community members step up to help those in need around them. One of the challenges after a catastrophe strikes is mobilizing those caring citizens so they can effectively help their neighbors and neighborhoods,” explained UWVC’s press release. “In order to best engage spontaneous volunteers during a disaster, United Way, the Red Cross, and the Sheriff's Department are collaborating so that community members can volunteer easily and be directed to the City and County departments or community-based organizations where their volunteering will have the most impact.”

Individuals looking for volunteer opportunities following the fire’s containment in Ventura County can stay tuned to UWVC’s websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

In the aftermath of the disaster, United Way's Ventura County Volunteer Center will serve as an online, call, and walk-in center for spontaneous volunteers. The Volunteer Center will register volunteers and coordinate with the Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services to place them where they can do the most good for the community. 2-1-1 Ventura County will also be available 24/7 to register volunteers, answer questions, and connect those in need with the resources to help them.