Tech giants pledge $2.5m to California wildfire relief fund

Google, Apple and Facebook have pledged a combined $2.5m to help relief efforts following the devastating wildfires in California this week, which have claimed 23 lives and continue to rage throughout Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino wine country.

Mount Veeder. Photo: Jackson Family Wines

At least 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed by wildfires burning in Napa Valley wine country, according to Cal Fire, completely destroying a number of wineries and vineyards, with 170,000 acres of land burned.

Having ignited in the early hours of Monday morning, fires swept throughout northern California by high winds and were most damaging in the Atlas Peak-Stag’s Leap area near Yountville, in Sonoma County between Kenwood and Santa Rosa, and in the mountains north and west of Calistoga.

While the death toll has now increased to 23, according to reports this morning. Eleven people alone died in the Tubbs Fire, making it the 6th deadliest fire in California’s history, Cal Fire has confirmed. On Wednesday, fire crews numbering 8,000 reported that they were battling 22 large wildfires and had enacted further evacuations due to the rising threat posed by wind speeds.

Facebook announced on Tuesday that it would be donating $1 million to local nonprofits, including the Community Foundation of Sonoma County.

“I’m thinking of all our neighbors in harm’s way and I hope everyone stays safe,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post announcing the donation

Google has said it will be donating $500,000 to the relief effort, while Apple has also committed $1m to fire-relief efforts and is also matching employee donations two-for-one.

As reported by the drinks business, among the wineries known to have been most severely affected are Signorello in Napa, Paradise Ridge in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, and Paras Vineyards in Napa, Mount Veeder.

Other wineries confirmed to have suffered severe damage include Segassia Vineyard in Mount Veeder and White Rock Vineyards in Stag’s Leap, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Nicholson Ranch in Sonoma made a statement on Facebook on Tuesday stating that while its winery was in the path of the fire, it had escaped from being engulfed.

“We have some damage to fix. The wine is secure in our cellars. We are cleaning up and hoping to have the power back on this week. Some news sources prematurely reported our demise! We will keep you posted on our progress.”

This morning, Chateau St. Jean, also in Sonoma, issued a statement confirming that it had suffered only minor damage to an out building thanks to the “amazing work from the many firefighters”.
“Please join us as we praise the outstanding efforts of the first responders and crews facing the fires, and we wish for their safety,” it added. “Our thoughts are with the Napa and Sonoma community that have been impacted.”
Many more wineries are expected to have been damaged, but are yet to confirm the extent, with widespread evacuations and power outages still affecting much of the region.
The California Wine Institute has provided contacts for ways to help to in the relief effort, while Napa Valley Vintners has reactivated the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund, which it established in 2014 following the South Napa earthquake.
Those wishing to make donations can contribute via the Community Foundation of Napa Valley’s website, or by clicking the link available on the napavintners.com website. 

Contact information for other organisations accepting donations are listed below:-

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