MillerCoors is sending 50,000 cans of water to Northern California, including to the city of Redding, to aid those affected by wildfires in the area.
The company is partnering with Redding Distributing Company to deliver the water to local businesses, firefighters, first responders and aid organizations, including the American Red Cross, assisting residents of the region ravaged by wildfires, which have killed at least six people, including two firefighters, and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and other structures this summer.
The fire, which started July 23, ranks as the sixth-worst fire in California history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It is 39 percent contained, as of Friday.
MillerCoors is shipping the truckload of 12-ounce cans of water from its brewery in Shenandoah, Va. It is part of the company’s commitment to water can donations to communities in crisis that was launched last summer in partnership with Broomfield, Colo.-based canmaker Ball. Together, the two companies are committed to providing more than 2 million cans to the Red Cross over the next two years.
The water is canned at the MillerCoors brewery in Trenton, Ohio, and stored in Shenandoah. The 12-pack cartons are donated by Graphic Packaging International. SunteckTTS, a MillerCoors transportation partner, is donating the cost of freight and fuel to transport the water west.
“MillerCoors prioritizes the safety and well-being of the communities we operate in,” said Karina Diehl, MillerCoors senior director for national community affairs. “During a time of crisis, access to water is essential. Through the company’s donation, we hope to provide comfort to communities affected by the wildfires.”
Lewis Milligan, general manager of Redding Distribution, said the fire "has been tough" for the region and for Redding employees. At least one of them lost a home to the fires, and two more have not yet been allowed back into their neighborhoods after evacuations. More than 20 of the roughly 100 employees have been displaced for a night or more throughout the week.
"There are many areas in our market we cannot even get to because of the fire and associated road closures," he said. "Things are getting better, but there's still fire and a lot of people are displaced, and they will be for awhile. As I stand here right now, there's ash literally falling out of the sky."
MillerCoors earlier this year donated 25,000 cans of water to residents of southern Iowa, following flooding that triggered a boil order. The company made similar donations totaling more than 550,000 cans last year to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in response to widespread damage inflicted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Other beer companies, including Anheuser-Busch, also have programs to donate canned water to communities in need. The St. Louis-based brewer today said it is sending more than 100,000 cans to California in the wake of the wildfires.