CALIFORNIA—As dozens of massive wildfires blaze across parts of California, Bishop Oscar Cantú from the diocese of San Jose called for prayers for families, firefighters, and first responders.
Northern and Central California are suffering under the acrid smoke and threatening flames of two dozen active wildfires.
Two of those are the second and third largest wildfires ever recorded in the history of the state. Both are burning in the San Francisco Bay Area, where over 200,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.
At least seven people have lost their lives over the past week, which has seen some 650 different fires. Around 700 homes and businesses have been destroyed.
Firefighters from across the U.S. have joined the battle against the blazes. Fire engines and crews have arrived from Texas, Arizona, Montana, Nevada, and Utah.
President Donald Trump freed up federal funds to help Californians in the seven counties affected by the fires, declaring a major disaster on Aug. 22.
Officials said lLightning strikes from a series of dry thunderstorms ignited most of the wildfires.
As the flames lick at many doors, Bishop Cantú, of San Jose, encourages everyone to unite in prayer for the people of California.
One fire, known as the SCU Lightning Complex, is menacing parts of Bishop Cantú’s diocese, and is the third-largest wildfire on record. It has burned 339,000 acres, and was only 10% contained as of Sunday.
In a statement, Bishop Cantú praised firefighters and first responders for “braving high heat and unpredictable firestorms across difficult terrain, often at great personal sacrifice, to defend lives and property.”
“We are not alone: God is with us,” he said. “He is our refuge and strength, especially in moments of darkness. His love for us is fiercer than any fire, stronger than any disease, steadier than the unknown.”
By Devin Watkins