Local and national businesses with ties to the Bay Area are slashing prices and offering free services to residents affected by the deadly wine country fires.
Airbnb activated its Disaster Response Program on Monday to help provide free shelter to first responders and evacuees fleeing from the massive inferno, which has been ravaging much of the North Bay since Sunday. So far, more than 100 hosts on the house-sharing platform have offered up their homes at no cost.
A spokesperson for Airbnb says the company is looking for more Bay Area volunteers to opt-in to the Open Homes program, specifically those who live in Alameda, San Francisco, and Marin counties.
“We encourage hosts in safe areas to aid in this effort by listing their available rooms or homes on the platform to help the growing number of people evacuating,” said Kellie Bentz, Head of Global Disaster Response and Relief for Airbnb, in a statement.
The free listings are currently slated to continue until Oct. 30. Interested homeowners can check out how to join here.
Hotels are also slashing prices for first responders and evacuees. The Westin in San Francisco, a ritzy hotel in Union Square, lowered its prices from about $250 per night to $95. Hotel Zephyr, a pet-friendly hotel on Fisherman’s Warf, lowered its prices from about $200 per night to $95 for evacuees. And the Days Inn and Suites in Antioch is offering free rooms to evacuees and first responders.
Meanwhile, The de Young Museum in San Francisco is waiving admission this weekend for all Bay Area residents who want to escape the noxious and smoky air.
"Those affected by the fires, or those seeking to escape poor air conditions, we are offering free & safe space for visitors this weekend," the museum tweeted on Friday.
Other businesses are also offering aid to customers affected by the fires. Verizon Wireless is giving its affected subscribers talk, text and data relief. AAA Northern California, Nevada, and Utah have opened an emergency response trailer at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. There, members can get help with insurance claims and receive personal care items.
Officials estimate that 20,000 people have been displaced by multiple fires, which together have flattened entire neighborhoods in Santa Rosa and Petaluma – densely-populated suburbs home to both the working class and wine-country wealthy.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of homes of all sizes were obliterated by flames. On Monday, a few residents attempted to return to their neighborhoods, against official advice and found nothing but charred rubble.
John Gianfermi returned to one of those leveled Coffey Park homes Monday morning. As he talked against the backdrop of his gutted home, he picked out a washing machine, folding chairs, and what looked like a bed frame in the ruins. A Buddha had survived the flames, but he thought his photo albums and other family possessions were gone.
"A neighbor pounded on our door and said, 'You've got to go now,'" he said, recalling the moment he was told to evacuate. “"You don’t think that that’s ever going to happen to you.”
This list will be updated with local businesses providing shelter to fleeing evacuees. Have a tip? Email Gillian.Edevane@nbcuni.com