Bethel Church has been the subject of criticisms when the church would not open its doors to aid the victims of the fire that has ravaged through Redding, California. The so-called Carr Fire that affected Redding – a city of around 92,000 people about 230 miles north of San Francisco – was ignited by a vehicle problem last Monday about ten miles west of the city.
The fire was among 17 significant blazes in the state on Sunday that had forced roughly 50,000 people from their homes, including Joel Taylor, the head of Bethel Music.
Bethel Church is responding to backlash online for not opening up as an evacuation center for people in the Redding area. Lauren Vallotton, the local church operations director for Bethel Church, said: “This place wasn’t safe for large crowds, because we have one road in and one road out of our facility.”
A spokesperson for American Red Cross said Bethel Church offered their site as an evacuation center, but their location was too close to the fire line to have people staying overnight. Instead the church worked with the Salvation Army to be a distribution hub.
Bethel Church will open up as a distribution center Monday at 9 a.m. Donations will not be accepted at the church, but at Salvation Army.