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CHICO, Calif. -- The Walmart parking lot in Chico became an unofficial camp and donation drop site for camp fire evacuees immediately following the devastating fire.
The store parking lot and a neighboring field also became a temporary camp to dozens of people. Volunteers have brought food, clothes, and other items to the lot to help survivors. More than two dozen tents were set up as of November 17, and many more men, women, and children were living there.
After concerns from the community over health and safety of the people living there, Butte County and the City of Chico are working with state agencies to help move the survivors to an American Red Cross shelter, according to a news release.
The Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley has opened up as an official shelter, welcoming both Camp Fire evacuees and their small pets.
“People staying in the parking lot are not being forced to leave,” according to the Butte County press release.
However, temperatures have dropped into the 40’s, and with a forecast of rain within the next week, officials are letting people know that they are there to help them transition to a safe and dry shelter for the short term.
“While we are happy to have been able to provide an immediate place of escape from the wildfire, we understand that our parking lots are not a viable long-term housing solution and are working closely with the American Red Cross, the County, and local organizations to best preserve the health and safety of those impacted by the Camp Fire,” Walmart wrote in a statement released on Friday.
Some people staying at the Walmart parking lot say they are considering moving to a shelter, others say they plan to stay.
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