Last week, when the Camp Fire broke out in northern California, it spread quickly and soon became one of the most devastating fires in the state’s history. Centered in Butte County, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, as of this week it has destroyed more than 140,000 acres, taken down more than 10,000 structures, and killed more than sixty people.
Within just a few hours of the fire’s ignition, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, California, was posting pictures on its social media accounts that looked like something out of an apocalypse movie, with visible flames and smoke in the not-so-far distance. Indeed, the devastating fire nearly wiped out the neighboring city of Paradise.
Out of an abundance of caution, the brewery closed its doors and restaurant and sent their employees home to deal with the disaster. The fire never reached downtown Chico, so Sierra Nevada re-opened the doors to its restaurant this week and focused on serving those who lost their homes and fueling up first responders who have been working tirelessly to contain the blaze.
“We appreciate the tremendous amount of support and compassion shown from folks around the world. With the brave men and women risking their lives fighting this fire and the outpouring of support from communities near and far, we know we are on a path to healing and rebuilding,” reads a statement from Sierra Nevada Cofounder Ken Grossman, and his children, Sierra and Brian.
“For long-term support, we have set up a Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund supported through the Golden Valley Bank Community Foundation. The brewery is seeding this fund with an initial $100,000 to get started.” There is a long road to recovery for so many people, and if you would like to support this long-term effort, you can follow [this link], select “Sierra Nevada Brewery,” and follow the instructions thereafter. Checks can be made payable to “GVBCF – SierraNevada” and either dropped off at Golden Valley Bank or mailed to 190 Cohasset Rd., Chico, CA 95926. Grossman says, “Once the fire is out, we will distribute all donated money to partner organizations that are dedicated to rebuilding and supporting the communities that have been affected.”
For now, it looks like the brewery is out of the path of destruction. The same is true for Miner’s Alley Brewing Company, a brewpub in Oroville, south of Chico. It had been closed for a few days, but re-opened earlier this week.
Not all breweries in the area were as lucky. Feather River Brewing Co. in Magalia had announced in October that it was closing its doors after 18 years in business and that it’s equipment was up for sale. Earlier this week, brewery owner Roger Preces announced that both his home and brewery had been destroyed by the fire.
“Just wanted to let you know my house burned down and the brewery burned down with it. Hope you’re all doing well. Hope you all got out okay. And once again thanks for all the support you gave me the last 18 years,” he wrote on Facebook.
In the southern part of the state, the Woolsey Fire has also caused destruction and an employee of the Ladyface Ale Companie lost his home. The brewery has since set up a [donation page] to help.
“Even though we are all living moment to moment trying to figure out who is safe and whether our homes have been spared, the beauty of the human spirit still shines through,” says Grossman.
This article first appeared on Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine’s website.