Woolsey Fire affects Westmont students: The fire is nearing full containment, but has left a large impact
Views 24 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 11 - 28 - 2018 | By: Erin Bunnell
The Woolsey Fire burning in the Los Angeles area has taken a toll on thousands of civilians who call the county home, but has also affected many of the students at Westmont. Fortunately the fire reached 94 percent containment as of press time after burning out of control for over a week, destroying hundreds of properties and putting many lives in danger. With steady increases in containment, there is hope that the fire will be completely extinguished soon.
Authorities are still unsure of how the fire was started, though it was confirmed to have originated near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, located close to the Ventura and Los Angeles Counties boundary. From there, the fire has rapidly burned through almost 100,000 acres, consuming 1,452 buildings and damaging 337 as of press time. At least 52,000 civilians have been displaced from their homes due to evacuations, the death toll has increased to 3, and just as many firefighters have been severely injured while combating the flames. With these statistics, the Woolsey Fire has been no small matter of concern.
Students at Westmont that come from the Los Angeles area report feeling the pain of this disaster, having family and/or friends who have dealt with the consequences firsthand. According to first year Alex Gabriel from Moorpark, “tons of [her] friends” have been forced to evacuate, and a few have even lost their homes. “It’s been really stressful watching everything burn from afar,” says Gabriel. Friday morning after the fire broke out, the 101 freeway was closed as a result of the flames jumping the road in three different places, as reported by the LA Times. The road closure made it extremely difficult for Westmont students to return home to be with their families during the crisis, leaving them stuck in Santa Barbara, unable to do anything but watch as the blaze tore through the Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.
At the time the fire started, Los Angeles was experiencing serious Santa Ana winds and low humidity--conditions that made it possible for the flames to flourish despite the continued efforts of firefighters. Days later, these weather conditions persisted, resulting in multiple flare-ups and the spread of dense smoke to even the farthest reaches of the County. According to CBS News, the air pollution of both Northern and Southern California (from the Camp and Woolsey Fires, respectively) has earned the title of “dirtiest air in the world.” The Woolsey Fire may not be California’s most destructive fire, but it has certainly wreaked havoc on the millions of people who call Southern Califronia their home.
Still, more students remember the Thomas Fire that devastated the Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties in December of 2017. Second year Rachel Elliot remembers how “being evacuated [from Westmont] was scary,” a sentiment many can relate to in both Northern and Southern California right now. “I’m worried about my family and friends,” says Elliot, whose hometown is affected currently by the Camp Fire. As the Woolsey, Hill, and Camp fires burn on, there is much uncertainty, but firefighters are optimistic and expect to have the fire fully contained by Thursday, November 22nd.