Recovering Treasures from the Ashes of California Wildfires

Samaritan’s Purse Relief Team Aiding Fire Victims

CALIFORNIA, USA — Samaritan’s Purse is helping homeowners in Santa Cruz, California, where hundreds of houses burned to the ground in the wake of terrible wildfires. Sharing God’s love in word and deed, their volunteers are sifting through the ashes to find personal treasures for affected families.

Mark Bingham, Fire Chief, Boulder Creek Fire Dept.

We started chasing fire from lightning strikes on the 16th. From then on, it was off to the races as the fire pushed towards the town of Boulder Creek.

This is a historical fire, hasn’t happened in over 100 years. The impact has been great. We’ve lost several hundred homes. A lot of people have been displaced when they were evacuated. And unfortunately, a lot of people don’t get to come home. It’s been tough.

Tom O’Brien, Samaritan’s Purse

We’re in Santa Cruz, California. In this particular area where Samaritan’s Purse is serving, over 900 homes were lost. It breaks your heart. And as you meet the homeowners, they’re some of the most wonderful people around. We’ve come to help them recover from this horrible fire, to help them sift through the ashes to find some of those valuable items that might still be left behind, and show them God’s love.

April Robbins, Volunteer

We’re standing in the Center Creek Mountains. We’re looking at the aftermath of a fire. This is absolutely surreal. And you meet people that have lost their homes. It’s like, “What can I do? Where can I move?” And I was just really praying for God to show me. And Sunday morning, when I saw it on social that you guys were coming, I’m like this is it. And I just feel really blessed to be helping these families.

Andy Immel, Homeowner

I had no idea this was available. I only found out because my wife sent me an email that she had seen about Samaritan’s Purse, and I called. And Samaritan’s Purse was here on site. And we’ve got to be with them to see the expertise. And I’ve watched them go through these grounds and been amazed at how careful they go and how thorough they are with all the sifting. So it’s been just wonderful. I must say that the tremendous love and care and support has really made a big difference.

Dan and Rochelle Kelly, Homeowners

It’s amazing. We had no clue that there was any organization that would help us with this job because on top everything else, it was just insurmountable to us. And then to find out about you was a godsend. It’s just taking such a burden off of us. We really appreciate it. We’re no spring chickens anymore. And it’s tricky walking around in that rubble. So we just really, really appreciate it. We’ve already found some of the collectibles. It’s just going to be a wonderful reminder of what we had up here. So support like that is very encouraging. The love and prayer that we’ve run into it every time we turn around has really helped.

Kenneth and Georgina Burgess, Homeowners

We lost a lot of things. And every time they found something, it was an enjoyment, very cheerful. Yes, they were marvelous, marvelous.

April Robbins

Nothing in the world could touch my heart like this has been doing. My biggest prayer is just, “Lord, give me the right words. Show me where they’re hurting.” I just want to do as much as I can for them.


Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Samaritan’s Purse International Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) program is committed to meeting the critical needs of victims of war, poverty, famine, disease, and natural disaster. We stand ready to respond at a moment’s notice whenever and wherever disaster strikes. The DART specializes in providing water, food, shelter, and medical care while sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

CONTACT: Melissa Nystrom, news@samaritan.org


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