Excerpt from www.umc.org/news-and-media/united-methodists-help-struggle-amid-wildfires

By Mary Jacobs
Oct. 12, 2017 | UMNS

Another view of Senikau Momoka’s property after wildfires swept through California on Oct. 9. Momoka, who is a member of First United Methodist Church of Santa Rosa, took shelter at the church. Photo by Kelly Vaughn, courtesy of First United Methodist Church.

Another view of Senikau Momoka’s property after wildfires swept through California on Oct. 9. Momoka, who is a member of First United Methodist Church of Santa Rosa, took shelter there. Photo by Kelly Vaughn, courtesy of First United Methodist Church.

To view a large version of the NASA satellite photo of California from Oct. 9, click here.

First United Methodist Church of Santa Rosa, California, was always a church that helped others in need. After wildfires tore through Santa Rosa on Oct. 9, many in the church were homeless and relying on the help of others.

Despite the damage to homes of members, the church still opened its doors as a shelter.

“We got a knock on the door at 2 a.m., and had to evacuate immediately,” said the Rev. Blake Busick, senior pastor of the church. Fire embers rained down on Busick and his family as they left their home. Their home was destroyed, as were at least six homes of other church families.

The wildfires still raging in northern California have burned through nearly 170,000 acres, killing at least 29, destroying 3,500 homes and other structures, and forcing the evacuation of more than 20,000. Hundreds remain missing.

Most fires are still uncontained. The largest fires — in Northern California’s Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties — left behind charred rubble, clouds of smoke and little else.

“These fires take everything,” said Linda Caldwell, conference superintendent for Mission Collaboration for the California-Nevada Conference. In areas affected, she added, “There’s nothing left to rebuild.” Witnesses have compared the devastation to the aftermath of a nuclear blast.

First United Methodist Church of Santa Rosa, California, opened as a shelter even though seven families in the church, including the Rev. Blake Busick, senior pastor, lost their own homes to deadly wildfires, Oct. 9. After the fires, many in the church were homeless and relying on the help of others. Photo by Kelly Vaughn, courtesy of First United Methodist Church.

First United Methodist Church of Santa Rosa, California, opened as a shelter even though seven families in the church, including the Rev. Blake Busick, senior pastor, lost their own homes to deadly wildfires, Oct. 9. Photo by Kelly Vaughn, courtesy of First United Methodist Church.

Church members in Santa Rosa went to bed on Oct. 8 unaware that a fire was burning near Calistoga. High winds spread the fire so quickly that evacuees were forced to flee within minutes of the first warnings.

Read the entire article at:  www.umc.org/news-and-media/united-methodists-help-struggle-amid-wildfires