Central Valley Red Cross stretched thin amid busy season

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Emotionally, and financially, the Central Valley Red Cross Disaster Action Team, or DAT, helped fourteen people affected by Saturday's northwest Fresno fire.

It's one of four fires they've responded to in the last day, in which they've assisted 40 people. They've been there for at least 60 people in the last ten days while responding to 15 different fires, from Fresno to Hanford.

One was even a fatal fire where a 65-year-old father of three died while trying to put out the flames at this mobile home in Fresno. Executive Director Barry Falke says they're averaging one fire per day. "So what I sometimes get concerned about is just how many volunteers do we have at our disposal to help with these types of services," Falke said.

He says he fears his team may get burned out, responding to so many emotionally-draining events. But around the holidays, Falke says it's hard, because the organization sees an increase in residential fires but a significant decrease in people volunteering.

So to continue to help those displaced by fires, Falke has a message for those in the Valley. "The Red Cross does need your help, that the Red Cross does need volunteers to do this important critical mission work that's happening here in our valley every day," Falke said.

Becoming a DAT volunteer simply requires filling out an application, passing a background check, and going through a five hour training session. Falke says it's one of the more unique and rewarding volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross.

It's one where you can give hope and comfort to those experiencing total loss, and in the season of giving there may be no better gift.

Falke says if you can't give the gift of time, they always could use financial donations at redcross.org.
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