If you have a retirement plan through your employer you may be able to get access to that money to pay some of your bills associated with the California wildfires.

If you have a retirement plan through your employer (e.g. 401(k) or 403(b)), usually you cannot withdraw any of that money until your employment with them ends. An exception to this is if your retirement plan allows for hardship distributions. Hardship distributions are made to the employee if there is an immediate and heavy financial need. Normally, the rules around these distributions are quite strict and very few people qualify  for them.  However, following the California wildfires, the IRS has issued a notice that those living in the federally declared disaster area associated with the wildfires of October 2017* qualify for hardship distributions from their plans.

The distribution must be taken between October 8 2017 and March 15, 2018 to qualify under this relief.  At this point in time there is no relief yet from the normal tax consequences of using such money (e.g., the 10% federal tax penalty for early withdrawal from an IRA).

Despite the relaxed rules, you will need to work with the plan administrator or financial institution to enable this to be done. It is also possible that you, as a victim, are more invested in the solution than the management company. So it may require extra effort. If that is the case, you are encouraged to work with an Enrolled Agent (particularly one who is a tax law code and IRS announcement junkie) to assist in communicating the provisions.

*The counties that qualify for this relief are: Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Solano, Sonoma and Yuba.