Portsmouth-based Mercy Chefs deploying to California as Dixie Fire burns


Cal Fire Capts. Derek Leong, right, and Tristan Gale monitor a firing operation, where crews set a ground fire to stop a wildfire from spreading, while battling the Dixie Fire in Lassen National Forest, Calif., on Monday, July 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Portsmouth-based Mercy Chefs is deploying to California to help those impacted by the Dixie Fire.

An estimated 6,170 firefighters alone are battling the Dixie Fire in Northern California, the largest of 100 large fires burning in 14 states, with dozens more burning in western Canada. It has destroyed more than 1,000 structures in the northern Sierra Nevada.

Mercy Chefs, a nonprofit that provides restaurant-quality meals after natural disasters and other emergencies, will serve 1,200 meals per day beginning on Monday, Aug. 16 at Lassen High School in Susanville, California.

Mercy Chefs will prepare the breakfast, lunch and dinner meals at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Outpost and use its West Coast mobile kitchen to deliver food directly to the shelters.

“The damage and destruction this fire has caused is heartbreaking,” said Gary LeBlanc, founder of Mercy Chefs. “For many families, these shelters are the only source of refuge after their homes and livelihoods have been taken from them. We hope our meals can provide a small slice of hope in what is likely one of the darkest periods of their lives.”

The Salvation Army has been feeding those who have been displaced but will stop Sunday night.

For this deployment, Mercy Chefs will partner with Bethel Global Response, a crisis response organization affiliated with Bethel Church based in Redding, California.

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