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Apple and Others Pledge Millions for Wine Country, Bay Area Fire Relief

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Some of the largest tech firms in the country are pledging a combined $2.5 million to aid fire relief efforts in the wake of devastating blazes across Northern California.

The Cupertino-based Apple is donating $1 million to relief efforts in the area, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Thursday. In addition, Apple said that it will match employee donations two-for-one — though it did not specify which organizations the funds would go to. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is currently abroad, tweeted Tuesday about the effort.

Google, based in Mountain View, is also donating $500,000 to relief efforts in the wake of fires — and will work with its longtime partner, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, to distribute the funds to local nonprofits.

The Menlo Park-based Facebook also announced earlier this week that it would be contributing $1 million to local nonprofits, including the Community Foundation of Sonoma County, according to a local NBC affiliate.

“I’m thinking of all our neighbors in harm’s way and I hope everyone stays safe,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. Facebook is also in a unique position to facilitate relief efforts, as its Safety Check features allow locals to mark themselves safe and its community message boards offer users a chance to pledge their own contributions and assistance.

The three tech companies are all headquartered in Silicon Valley in the Bay Area, meaning that the fires are raging close to home.

The fires, which first started late Sunday night, continue to rage in Wine Country areas such as Sonoma and Napa. Other blazes have devastated suburbs and neighborhoods in Santa Rosa and throughout the Northern Bay Area. At least 24 people have died as a result of the blazes and 20,000 have been evacuated. There are thousands more missing or unaccounted for.

Fires are not uncommon in Northern California in October, when dry weather and hot Santa Ana winds can make for risky fire conditions. But these are the worst fires that the area has seen in years, destroying more than 3,500 homes and businesses and scorching roughly 265 square miles. Several fires remain almost entirely uncontained Thursday, and thousands of people are still in the midst of evacuations.

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