active disaster quick links

National Disaster

Legal Aid

California Wild Fires 2017

2017 California Wildfires Recovery Information

THE DISASTER LEGAL HOTLINE IS: 1-800-310-7029

Wildfires broke out in several regions of California beginning on October 8, 2017 and many areas were significantly impacted. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on October 10, 2017 that federal disaster assistance has been made available to residents of Napa and Sonoma Counties to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas, making federal funding available for emergency work and to individuals and businesses owners who sustain damage as a result of  the fires.

For DR 4344, as of October 12, direct federal financial assistance is available for impacted individuals in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma and Yuba counties.  

Note:  THERE IS A 60 DAY WINDOW TO APPLY FOR FEMA.  Apply to FEMA to trigger the SBA Disaster loan process. THE SBA APPLICATION DEADLINE IS ALSO HAS A 60 DAY WINDOW.

Key resources for those impacted by the hurricane and flooding

Government Disaster Relief Benefits

Residents and businesses affected by the fires can apply for government disaster relief benefits in several ways:

  • Online at DisasterAssistance.gov
  • On the FEMA Mobile App, or by
  • Calling 800-621-3362 (FEMA). Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may also call 800-621-3362. People who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available. Press 2 for Spanish and press 3 for other languages.
  • Please watch for updates on FEMA's website.

Legal Assistance and Other Resources 

  • A free legal hotline is now available for survivors of the fires in California in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma, and Yuba Counties (additional counties may be added). Disaster survivors facing legal issues related to the fires and who are unable to afford a lawyer may call the hotline at 415-575-3120.

  • Hotline Hours are 8:30am to 5:30pm, Monday- Friday. Starting October 23, 2017, hotline hours are 8:30am to 8:00pm, Monday-Thursday. Callers may also leave a message. 

  • Bay Area Legal Aid's Legal Advice Line (800-551-5554) also includes a dedicated line to address emergency issues related to the fires, and Health Consumer Center (HCC) (855-693-7285) to assist with Healthcare related issues (ex. MediCal, medical billing, healthcare coverage) for any residents of Napa and Sonoma, even if now displaced and receiving medial care in other counties.

  • Visit LawHelpCA.org's Disaster Relief resources for additional information and online legal rights resources for wildfire survivors.

Other resources to help address legal needs resulting from this disaster

  • If you need to appeal a FEMA denial on your own, please see here to get an interactive form to appeal and letter requesting a copy of your file.  

  • You can also find resources on this site under For People Who Need Help.

  • Stay up-to-date with the latest on the News page.

  • Help After a Disaster: FEMA's Guide for the Individual Applicants

  • United Policyholders is a non profit created to help people navigate the insurance process.  Please see their page on the CA Wildfires, and their related blog.  

General safety and shelter resources

Are you a volunteer attorney able to help with legal response efforts?

  • Register to volunteer on the disaster legal services hotline and for other disaster relief volunteer opportunities. 
    The hotline is based out of downtown SF and offers brief legal advice on issues ranging from landlord-tenant, insurance issues, and FEMA benefits to employment and immigration. Online training will be provided for volunteers.
  • The disaster legal services hotline is operating through the Bar Association of San Francisco in partnership with the Bay Area Resilience Collaborative (Justice & Diversity Center, Alameda County Bar Association and its Volunteer Legal Services Corporation, State Bar of California Office of Legal Services, Bay Area Legal Aid, Pro Bono Net and the Judicial Council of California), the Legal Aid Association of California, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and others. Assistance through this hotline is available to qualified people affected by the North Bay fires.
  • In addition, volunteers will be needed to staff Disaster Recovery Centers in Sonoma and Napa, and possibly Solano. These DRCs are centralized locations that will offer one-stop resources for survivors of the fire, set up by local, state or federal authorities. Attorneys will be needed to offer brief advice, and help completing forms (largely FEMA benefits applications or insurance forms). Volunteers will also likely be needed to help staff clinics in those counties, focused on FEMA benefits. Volunteers will also be needed for ongoing assistance, with either limited scope or full scope pro bono representation in landlord-tenant, employment, insurance, FEMA and other matters. Please register via the form above to stay apprised of these opportunities.