On Wednesday, July 25, an arsonist started a fire that quickly spread towards the Southern California mountain community of Idyllwild.
The blaze, known as the Cranston Fire, burned several homes and caused the entire area to be evacuated. It could have been a lot worse if it wasn't for the heroic efforts of more than 1,500 firefighters and first responders who worked tirelessly to protect life and property.
You may recognize the town from my monthly Lessons From the Overlook posts about a vacation rental cabin my wife and I own in Idyllwild. Fortunately, our cabin is safe and in good condition. I truly appreciate all the email, text, and social media messages people have sent over the past few days!
Evacuations are slowly being lifted and people are starting to return to their homes. Many people are now wondering how they can help the community, so I'm sharing a few ideas here.
Many restaurants, shops, and other small businesses in Idyllwild depend on visitors to bring in revenue so they can pay employees and keep the doors open.
The best thing you can do is visit the town.
You can book a cabin with Idyllwild Vacation Cabins, which manages over 40 cabins in addition to The Overlook. Cabins range in size from one to six bedrooms, giving you some great options for a romantic getaway, couples or friends weekend, or a family gathering. The cabins are well-appointed, many accept pets, and you'll receive personal and friendly customer service!
I spoke with the owner, Martha Sanchez, who told me there have been a lot of cancellations from people who see the fire on the news and assume the town is unsafe. Small businesses like Martha's have already been hurt by the fires and evacuations. The cancellations prolong the recovery, so even booking a future visit now can help!
There are many other businesses who selflessly supported the community and first responders during the fire. Giving them your patronage is a wonderful way to show some appreciation.
Here are a few terrific stories:
Idyllwild Chevron—We fill up here because of their always friendly employees and surprisingly good gas prices!
La Casita Mexican Restaurant—offers great service and is our favorite place for Mexican food on the mountain!
Village Market—a well-stocked small market that also has a nice deli and super-helpful employees.
You may still wish to make a donation to help support the community if visiting in person is not an option. Here are three great options:
Living Free Animal Sanctuary. This local animal rescue nonprofit was evacuated during the fire and remains evacuated as of Monday, July 30. Yet they've still managed to muster resources to shelter and feed the dogs, cats, horses, and other animals they care for. Donate
FIND Foodbank. This organization provided food and water to evacuated families. Food bank supplies are often diminished after a major event like this. Donate
American Red Cross. The Red Cross has operated shelters from evacuees and is currently providing counseling, cleanup supplies, and other services to people returning to their homes. Donate
You can still help even if you can't visit or donate money.
Please help get the word out that Idyllwild is open for business. The news media tends to head out of town to chase the next story once the fire subsides. You can help people learn that this beautiful mountain town is not engulfed in flames.
Take less than one minute to share this post on your favorite social media platform. Better yet, send this update directly to any friends or family members you know in Southern California.