SAN FRANCISCO - The wildfires burning in Northern California have forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. There are so many displaced that nearby evacuation centers are filling up. Evacuees are traveling as far away as San Francisco, seeking shelter while they are under an evacuation order.
The Kincade Fire roaring through Sonoma County has already destroyed homes and forced the evacuation of close to 200,000 residents.
On Sunday San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a proclamation opening a temporary disaster shelter. That shelter opened its doors 8 a.m. Monday morning.
Antiono Ramirez and his family had to leave their home in Windsor. First they evacuated to Santa Rosa Saturday morning, then they relocated again to San Francisco.
"We came all the way out to San Francisco because there was no power in the Marin area, no power in San Rafael," said Ramirez. "So, we were looking for something to be safer."
The Red Cross would not allow television cameras inside, but about 40 evacuees are now temporarily housed in the basement of St. Mary's. The Red Cross said 200 people can be accommodated at this site alone. "We're planning for it," said Allison Biddinger from The American Red Cross. "We're preparing for it so that we're ready if there is that need, we'll be ready for it."
The city said it stands ready to help with a statewide emergency.
"Requests came in through the state, though Sonoma and Marin Counties, and we immediately began working with our partners at the Red Cross and across city agencies to open a shelter here today," said Joe Molica from San Francisco's Human Services Agency."
The evacuees here are hearing they could be out of their homes for more than a week. They're hopeful they can go back soon but are grateful they have a place to stay while they wait out the flames.
"I'm glad that they're providing something really good for us," said Ramirez. "We're trying to look to be safe, and at least have meals. Good meals."
The evacuation center wll be open until at least Friday, at that time the city will reevaluate, figure out if they need to open more shelters to accommodate more evacuees.