Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Chaplains in California as Hundreds of Homes Burn in Butte and Valley Fires
By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (ANS. SEPT. 18) Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team are in California to minister to the emotional and spiritual needs of those who have been affected by the widespread Butte and Valley Fires.
According to a story by Sarah Heise for KCRA, after days of battling the massive fires in Northern California, firefighters continue to make good progress Friday in containing the blazes.
In Amador and Calaveras counties, KCRA said according to Cal Fire the Butte Fire stands at 70,760 acres burned and is up to 60 percent containment,
The Valley Fire in Lake County has charred 73,700 acres, but the 4,000 firefighters working the front lines were able to increase containment to 40 percent, Cal Fire said.
That blaze has destroyed 585 homes and hundreds of other structures, but that number is expected to go up once crews are able to get into the burn area and better assess the region.
A news release from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) said news reports indicate that there are three confirmed fatalities, with several more people missing.
“These fires are fierce and their destructive strength is overwhelming,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, speaking in the news release.
He added, “There are so many that need our prayers at a time such as this. Please join us in praying for the firefighters who are placing their lives on the line, for the authorities overseeing the entire situation, and especially for those who have lost loved ones and homes in this tragedy.”
Efforts will begin in earnest over the coming days as additional chaplains arrive and homeowners are allowed to return to what is left of their homes to begin the difficult process of recovery.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has responded in coordination with Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian disaster relief organization headed by Franklin Graham, who is also president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
According to the news release, the response to the Butte and Valley Fires will be the first wildfire deployments for the chaplaincy ministry this year.
This is the fourth year that the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has traveled to California for fire-related disasters, following efforts near San Diego in 2003; Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, Madera and Fallbrook in 2007; and Yorba Linda in 2008.
About the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team was developed by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association following the attacks of Sept. 11 2001.
It has since grown into a nationwide network of chaplains in 48 states who are specifically trained to deal with crisis situations. They have deployed to more than 195 disaster sites, including shootings, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes
For more information on the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, visit www.billygraham.org/rrt Updates can also be found at www.facebook.com/RRTChaplains.
Photo captions: The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team in prayer. 2) Jeremy and Elma Reynalds.
About the writer: Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, www.joyjunction.org. He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on “From Destitute to Ph.D.” are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at email@example.com.
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