SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (11/18/08)--The California Department of Financial Institutions has requested that the state’s financial institutions, including credit unions, help families recovering from wildfires that destroyed more than 800 homes in the Orange County area. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties. Tens of thousands of Californians were forced to evacuate their homes and major freeways have been shut down as the wildfires continue to burn (Sacramento Bee Nov. 14). American First CU, La Habra, is contacting its members in affected areas. The credit union also will offer its American First Aid Program to affected members, Tina Ramos-Ingold, California Credit Union League public affairs coordinator, told News Now. American First reported no damages to branches in the area. The California league is contacting credit unions potentially affected by the fires. The league did not receive damage reports or news of affected credit union members by press time Monday night. Wescom CU, Pasadena, told News Now that it closed its Anaheim Hills branch early on Saturday because of the fires. The branch has since re-opened.