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The Camp Fire: One Year Later Image

The Camp Fire: One Year Later

For 17 days in the fall of 2018, the Camp Fire ravaged Butte County, Northern California. With over 150,000 acres burned, it became the most deadly and destructive fire in California history.

The Salvation Army was there from the beginning to help — and one year later, we are still providing assistance.

A major portion of the town of Paradise was destroyed, including the Salvation Army Thrift Store located there. There were 13,972 homes destroyed, plus 528 businesses and 4,293 other buildings. 52,000 people were ultimately evacuated. As many returned to their homes, there were thousands of people from the community with no home to return to.

Doing the Most Good

For over 100 years, The Salvation Army has provided vital services to the North State area. Our initial response, distribution center, early recovery, transitional housing and long term recovery were all made possible by the generosity of our donors. The Salvation Army is deeply grateful to all who pitched in and went to work when Butte County cried out in need. Hope was found — even in the darkest of places.

The Salvation Army continues to work side by side with the recovering communities. We have transitioned from focusing on the provision of immediate needs, including temporary shelter, food, water and medical aid, to providing for long-term needs that help survivors get back to their "new normal."

*Statistics for November 2018 through October 2019, including initial response, initial financial assistance, Long Term Recovery Program, gifts in kind, staff hours and supplies.


Stories from the Fire

Our Initial Response

We jumped into action right away, serving thousands

Distribution Center

Over 20,000 survivors received food and other important items

Then Holidays Came

Thanksgiving & Christmas were still observed, in spite of the devastation

Celebrity Chefs Do Good

Two familiar faces took the time to join us and help feed evacuees


  Long term recovery

We were in the community before, during and after the fire. Here's what we're doing now.

When the initial crisis ends and the TV crews leave - we don't. In fact, we believe that this is when important work begins. To that end, we developed our Long Term Recovery Program. Our goal is to use donations from our generous supporters to provide direct, practical assistance that is vital for survivors who are rebuilding their lives. We plan to continue this assistance well into 2022.

Straightforward Assistance for Those Who Need It

We are always available to provide emotional and spiritual support to survivors. But we know that tangible support is vital to those who have lost so much, which is why we help with a variety of items, including:

  • Deposit, Rent and Utilities
  • Gift Cards for Local Retailers
  • Transportation & Auto Repairs
  • Work Tools & School Supplies
  • Medical & Dental Costs
  • Household Items/Furniture
  • Disaster Construction



Video: Local Business Gets a Boost from Our Recovery Program

In the aftermath of the Camp Fire, many local businesses have suffered. But Hudson's Appliance Center received a lot of help from our Long Term Recovery Program. "For us to keep 19 staff members employed, without The Salvation Army, I don’t think it would’ve happened, honestly," said Vince Clarkson, owner.

The family business has been in the area for more than 50 years.



A New Life for Paul

Our Long Term Recovery Program helps people like Paul, who suffers from multiple disabilities. Gathering up his two cats, Paul escaped the flames of the Camp Fire before his apartment burned to the ground. Two months later, Paul was living in a trailer provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) when he contacted The Salvation Army.

“They asked me what my needs were,” he recalls. The Salvation Army was able to cover Paul’s immediate expenses, as well as a deposit and first month’s rent on a new apartment. Paul — and his cats — are grateful to again enjoy the comfort of a real home.

“My life is pretty much back to normal,” he smiles. “I’m so glad that there are people who entrust The Salvation Army to get help to the right people — and I’m just grateful that I was one of those people.”



Video: Special Activities for Kids

We held a back to school shopping event for 350 Camp Fire survivors this past summer. One mother shared the story of why the opportunity meant so much to her family.



Transitional Housing

When disaster strikes, the ethos of The Salvation Army is that we try to be “the first on site, and the last to leave.” This means meeting needs of survivors at every step of the way. We work to meet the needs of each household, making sure that every person is safe and cared for. And, in the months and even years following a disaster, we help families rebuild their lives.

To that end, we are building eight new homes in Marysville, CA for a special transitional housing program. Beginning in 2020, the program's focus will be on families who survived the Camp Fire. They will be able to stay in the program for up to one year as they work on their recovery plan. Each household will receive casework, and will have access to education and counseling, as well as food and transportation assistance. If they have lost their job, as many survivors have, we can provide job training through our culinary and construction training programs.

While in the transitional living program, the participants’ focus will be long-term stability. While living in a safe and sober environment, we’ll help them reshape their lives. It’s part of our mission to walk alongside them on their path to full recovery.




For decades, The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services have been there for people around the world in every major disaster. We remain committed to helping Camp Fire survivors, restoring the lives of individuals and families, and helping them move forward with a renewed sense of hope and purpose.





Your Support Is Always Vital

One year ago, our donors were an amazing blessing. And we count on our supporters all year long.

Although we help thousands of survivors each year, The Salvation Army does much more than help people in times of disaster. We maintain Community Centers throughout our region, providing family services, food, shelter, rehabilitation, career development, youth programs, and much more. It’s because of generous donors like you that we are able to keep serving those who need us.

If you would like to support The Salvation Army, make an online gift now. Thank you!


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