Kim and Kanye donate US$500,000 to California wildfire relief efforts

PHOTO: Reuters

LOS ANGELES - Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on Wednesday (Nov 21) donated US$500,000 (S$680,000) to firefighters and victims of a massive Southern California wildfire that came close to destroying the celebrity couple's own multimillion-dollar mansion.

Kardashian, appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, said she and West hired private firefighters to protect their home and others in their neighbourhood in rural Calabasas, north of Los Angeles.

Kardashian, West and their three children were among thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes during the 37,635 hectare Woolsey fire two weeks ago that spread into coastal Malibu, destroying 1,500 buildings and killing three people.

Kardashian, a businesswoman and star of reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, said the flames "got to our gate. We are still not in our home now. The smoke, the smell is too intense."

She said the couple felt blessed at being able to hire private firefighters.

At least 26 dead in California's most destructive ever wildfire

  • Search teams scoured the carnage of California's most destructive ever wildfire for victims on Sunday, as the state-wide death toll rose to 26 with high winds hampering the effort to rescue property and save lives.
  • Firefighters took advantage of a brief calm overnight to make headway against the multiple blazes, but conditions were expected to be hellish on Sunday with winds reaching as high as 110 kilometers an hour.
  • In fire zones north and south, acrid smoke blanketed the sky for miles, the sun barely visible. On the ground, cars caught in the blaze were reduced to mangled metal carcasses, while power lines were gnawed by the flames.
  • The largest inferno -- the so-called "Camp Fire" in the northern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains -- has destroyed 6,700 homes, business and other buildings in the town of Paradise, effectively wiping it off the map.
  • At least 23 people have lost their lives in and around the community of 27,000, according to an official count by authorities.
  • At the southern end of the state, where the "Woolsey Fire" is threatening mansions and mobile homes alike in the coastal celebrity redoubt of Malibu, the death toll has been limited to two victims found in a vehicle on a private driveway.
  • Rescuers spent Saturday collecting bodies around Paradise and placing them in a black hearse. Charred body parts were transported by bucket, while intact remains were carried in body bags.
  • They estimate they will need three weeks to fully contain the blaze.
  • Evacuation orders have been issued to more than 250,000 people across California, with authorities urging residents not to ignore warnings to flee.

"Our house is right on the end of a big park," she said. "We were able to get private firefighters... and they saved our home and saved our neighbourhood. I had them make sure they controlled every house on the edge, so it wasn't just our home."

Kardashian, West, and the rapper's fashion company Yeezy and sportswear company Adidas, which makes his sneakers, donated US$400,000 to victims of the fire and to California firefighters.

They also donated a further US$100,000 to firefighter Michael Williams, who fought the blaze in his neighbourhood after narrowly escaping from his own burning home.

The Woolsey fire is now 93 per cent contained. A separate fire in northern California destroyed more than 12,000 homes and businesses in the town of Paradise and killed 81 people. Another 700 are still unaccounted for almost two weeks after the blaze swept through the town, beginning on Nov 8.