Filipinos along path of California wildfires urged to evacuate if needed

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday, December 6, urged more than 100,000 Filipinos along the path of 3 fast-moving wildfires in southern California to take necessary precautions and evacuate their homes if ordered to by local authorities.

"We join our kababayans in the Philippines and in the United States in praying for the members of the Filipino Community and their neighbors in Ventura and Los Angeles counties that they will be spared from the raging infernos that are threatening their lives and their homes," Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement sent on Wednesday morning.

The DFA said it is closely monitoring the wildfire in Ventura County, as well as two other wildfires in Los Angeles County. The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles said the wildfires could affect as many as 115,000 Filipinos.

"Kababayans affected by the fires should not hesitate to get in touch with the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles if they need assistance," Cayetano said, as he urged Filipinos in affected areas to closely monitor the situation and listen instructions from authorities.

The Philippine Consulate General estimated there are 25,800 Filipinos in Ventura County, where the Thomas Fire has caused extensive destruction. The fast-moving fire already grew to 45,000 acres and destroyed more than 150 homes and businesses.

According to Consul General Adel Angelito Cruz, more than 27,000 people have been evacuated from affected areas in Ventura County. Local authorities said more than 1,000 firefighters had been deployed to fight the wildfire fueled by easterly Santa Ana winds.

The Consulate General also said there are 89,400 Filipinos in San Fernando Valley, where the Creek Fire burns. The wildfire has so far razed 11,000 acres. The Rye Fire, meanwhile, has spread over 1,000 acres.

Filipinos who may be affected by the fires can contact the Philippine Consulate General at +1.213.268.9990 or +1.213.587.0758 for assistance. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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