He makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. Psalms 104:4 (The Israel Bible™)
The “deadliest fires in California history” continued to spread in both Northern and Southern California over the weekend. To date, more than two-dozen people have been reported killed in the blazes, and entire communities have been decimated as high winds continued to fan the flames throughout the day.
In Northern California, the Camp Fire destroyed the town of Paradise and took the lives of 23 people. More than 6,400 residences were destroyed.
In Southern California, which is still reeling from a Wednesday-night shooting at a bar that left 12 people dead, residents of Thousand Oaks and neighboring towns were forced to flee their homes as the fast-moving Woolsey Fire raged through their area.
Some 250,000 affected by both fires have evacuated their homes.
The tables had already been set for a planned Shabbat-dinner program when Rabbi Chaim and Shula Bryski, co-directors of Chabad of Thousand Oaks, Calif., evacuated on Friday morning with their family, taking the Torahscrolls with them. They spent part of Friday checking in with people in their community and offered to arrange housing for those who needed a place to go as the Woolsey Fire continued to rage towards the Pacific Ocean.
At Chabad of Calabasas, Shabbat services were canceled out of an “abundance of caution.”
As Rabbi Eli Friedman wrote on Facebook: “If anyone needs help with accommodations or anything else, please let me know. Chabad in the [San Fernando] Valley is standing by to help.
“Have a safe and happy Shabbat; see you next week, b’ezrat Hashem[with G‑d’s help].”
Rabbi Levi Cunin, co-director of Chabad of Malibu, said he was reaching out to community members, as everyone watched and waited throughout the day for news of loss and damage.At least two people were killed in Malibu, which was under mandatory evacuation, as the Woolsey Fire has consumed more than 83,000 acres and leveled 177 structures as of early Sunday afternoon.
The fire, which is barely contained, is expected to continue its devastating path, with a “Red Flag Warning” in place as winds blow in excess of 50 miles per hour, forecasted to last through Tuesday morning.
Some Jewish institutions are already dealing with the fire’s impact. On Friday afternoon, the Ilan Ramon Day School in Agoura—named for the Israeli astronaut who was killed during a shuttle disaster in 2003—reported that the school’s computer lab, administration building and a bathroom were destroyed in the flames.