‘Burners Without Borders:' Burning Man Shipping Containers to Offer Temporary Housing for Santa Rosa Fire Victims

Shipping containers used just two months ago at the wildly popular Burning Man festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert will soon offer relief to dozens who lost their homes to California's most destructive wildfire.

A Burning Man theme camp, Camp Epic, is lending the seven containers to first responders, nurses, and the teachers and families of special needs children who attended Santa Rosa-based Anova Center for Education. One hundred and thirty five children on the autism spectrum were served at what has now been reduced to embers.

On Thursday, a field – dubbed Oasis Village – was in the starting phase of being transformed into temporary housing for as many as 75 people displaced by the fires. 

Contractor Glen Ghilotti's crews prepared the land for a park in the midst of seven trailers.

“The business community is stepping up and trying to take care of people so that's what it's all about,” Ghilotti said.

Burning Man organizers own the trailers and the property belongs to a local businessman, who helped bring together volunteers and donors to make Oasis Village a reality.

The containers offer air conditioning, kitchenettes, shelves and bunk beds. Each is 40 to 50 feet long and colorfully painted, while some are divided into three rooms, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

Jen Martini of Camp Epic is working with the nonprofit, Burners Without Borders, to ship the containers for $12,000, which is half the normal price. She is also seeking donations of bedding, toiletries and clothing, the Journal reported. 

Meanwhile, Burners Without Borders has set an online fundraising goal of $103,000 to help transport the trailers from Reno to Sonoma County and back. The money will also be used for kitchen supplies and acquiring additional housing accommodations like tents, trailers and RVs. So far, 59 people have contributed $5,583.

The nonprofit is on the lookout for volunteers who, over the next few months, can help to make Oasis Village a warm and inviting space, and also assist with cooking, fetching supplies and more.

Burners Without Borders is also asking for donations of up to 25 RVs, camper trailers and portable structures for Oasis Village.

Outside of Oasis Village, too, moving on is foremost on the minds of Napa and Sonoma counties' residents. 

A promising sign is that Santa Rosa’s Kaiser Hospital is open once again after being evacuated when flames roared right up to its back door. More than 100 patients and all of the staff were evacuated. Thursday, two-and-a-half weeks later, Kaiser resumed all of its services.

Meanwhile in Napa, local business owners and politicians took a ride Thursday on the famed Wine Train.

“We're back open for business and this is about us showing the world,” said Supervisor Ryan Gregory.

One of the major concerns for displaced families, however, is permanent housing. City, county and state leaders have expressed their concern and commitment to streamlining the permitting process. They plan to help cut through some of the regulatory red tape that can delay building for months and, sometimes, even years.

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