Airlines Issue Waivers, Airbnb Offers Free Stays for People Fleeing California Fires

Oct 10, 2017

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The fires ravaging Northern California have now claimed at least 11 lives and caused widespread damage across more than 100,000 acres. Residents, tourists and business owners have been forced to evacuate the area, as more than 15 reported fires have continued spreading at a rapid rate because of windy and dry conditions.

According to the Washington Post, the Battalion Chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Jonathan Cox said that the fires are “unprecedented” in how quickly they’ve spread. As of Tuesday morning, fire officials said than more than 1,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed by the fires that started on Sunday night.

TOPSHOT - A firefighter pulls a hose in front of a burning house in the Napa wine region of California on October 9, 2017, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region. / AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Image by Josh Edelson / Getty Images

Most of the damage has been reported in Sonoma and Napa counties, which are known for their vineyards. Now, instead of grape canopies and lush greenery on rolling hills, a resident described the scene as “Armageddon.” Hilton’s Sonoma hotel was in the direct line of the fire and was destroyed.

SANTA ROSA, CA - OCTOBER 09: Smoke continues to rise from the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1,500 homes and businesses in several Northen California counties. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Image by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Now, as people continue to evacuate the area, travel companies — from airlines to Airbnb — are doing their part to help people stay safe at no cost. At this time, three airlines have issued travel waivers for flights to and from the area. You can find complete details for each of the waivers below:

Alaska

  • Travel dates: October 9-11
  • Airports affected: Santa Rosa, Sonoma County (STS)
  • Must have bought your ticket by October 9
  • Rebook travel anytime through October 15
  • You may request a refund if you choose not to travel at all.
  • Tickets must be exchanged or refunded on or before October 15.

American Airlines

  • Travel dates: October 9-10
  • Airports affected: Santa Rosa, Sonoma County (STS)
  • Must have bought your ticket by October 9
  • Rebook travel anytime between October 9-13
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.

United

  • Travel dates: October 9-10
  • Airports affected: Santa Rosa, Sonoma County (STS)
  • ​​​​​​The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing on or before October 13, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.

In addition, Airbnb is offering free stays. Hosts in the affected region are allowed to open their homes for free between October 8 and 30, to house displaced neighbors and relief workers who are there to help.

You can take a look at some of the available housing options for free here.

As of Monday evening, a California Fire spokesperson said that “zero percent” of the fire was contained. On Monday, the world’s only Boeing 747 SuperTanker made six missions to dump fire retardant over the affected areas.

Featured image by Marcus Yam / Getty Images

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