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The American Red Cross is encouraging financial donations instead of food and clothing to assist people displaced by Thursday’s fire in San Bruno.

Donations can be made online at, by calling 1-888-4-HELP-BAY or by mailing a check to: American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, 85 Second St., Eighth Floor, San Francisco, CA, 94105.

There were 37 homes destroyed on five different streets in the Crestmoor Canyon neighborhood surrounding the site of the blast, as well as eight others with major or minor damage, according to city officials.

The Red Cross has provided services to several hundred people in the wake of the disaster, and the organization is asking for financial donations because of the time-intensive nature of handling other donations.

On Friday, volunteers were busy sorting food and organizing clothing by size and sex, said Red Cross spokeswoman Sara O’Brien.

“You’ve got to sort it, you’ve got to wash it and then people have to find out if it fits them,” O’Brien said.

Monetary donations allow the Red Cross to provide people with credit cards that they can use to purchase items they need and that fit them, O’Brien said.

Blood banks are also full at this time, she added.

“(The blood banks) are overwhelmed,” O’Brien said. “Donate over the next few weeks. Burn patients need longer-term treatment.”

The Red Cross, along with the city of San Bruno, San Mateo County and the state, are now preparing for the “second phase” of the relief operations, said Red Cross spokesman Steve Sharp.

“This is going to last for some time. Financial assistance is going to be the most important thing that Red Cross ends up doing, so we’re trying to put money in the bank to prepare for the second phase of this operation,” Sharp said.

“There’s a lot of people without any homes and they’ll be out of their homes for some time,” he said.

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