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Southern California Wildfires Force Thousands of Families to Evacuate

Spawned by a mixture of dry conditions and high winds, six major fires consumed thousands of acres of land and amassed billions of dollars in property damage. The Thomas Fire, which still rages as of Dec. 14, has ravaged over 240,000 acres and is only 30% contained. The fire has destroyed over 1,000 structures and became the fourth-largest wildfire in California’s modern record on Dec. 14.

Other fires, including the Creek, Skirball, Rye and Lilac fires, have affected and displaced thousands of Southern California residents, including Loyola families. Many living near the fires were forced by city officials to evacuate from their homes. Understanding the impact these fires had on affected families, Loyola sent out an email specifying that school attendance for these families was not mandatory.

Senior Marco de Cardenas, whose family was forced to evacuate, said, “My parents came into my room at like five in the morning and threw a suitcase at me and said, ‘You need to pack your stuff up, we have to leave.’ There was ash everywhere when we came back. The whole backyard was just coated in ash.”

Senior Dakota Rose, who lives near where the Skirball Fire raged, said, “I was evacuated, [and we]relocated down to Studio City. The fire was in Bel Air and it was quickly moving inland, and so my house was threatened by embers that were flying through the air, and we were evacuated for two days.”

“It was scary because there was my house at stake and a lot of stuff I left there and didn’t have time to bring with me. Other than that, I kinda knew to myself that my house wasn’t gonna go down, so that was just my intuition, and my intuition is pretty good sometimes,” said Rose.

The Skirball Fire was relatively small in comparison to the other fires, burning just over 400 acres and damaging 12 structures, but startling videos of the blaze-covered Sepulveda Pass hillside incited concern from residents and the student body.

Junior Thomas Pettit said, “On the morning of the fires, I woke up at 5 a.m. to one of the most daunting images of my life–the Skirball Fire burning up the hill of the Sepulveda pass toward Bel Air. I instantly went back into my house and woke up the rest of my family, and we quickly packed our bags, choosing only our most valuable and sentimental items.

Reflecting on the evacuation, Pettit said, “Thankfully, our house did not end up in imminent danger thanks to the superior work of our city’s first responders, but that experience truly reminded me of the fragility of life and the frivolity of material possessions.”

The Rye Fire, which burned 6,049 acres in the Santa Clarita area, was marked as completely contained on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The Lilac fire has required 1,659 firefighters and other personnel in order to contain the fire. As of Thursday, Dec. 14, the fire has been 97% contained.

Junior Stuart Deming, a student living near the Skirball fire, said, “I almost had to evacuate on two days and it was scary with that idea looming over. Leaving my home, my belongings and all that is a scary thing.”

Junior Joshua Umeh said, “I have a lot of friends who were affected by the fire and had to evacuate. I nearly had to evacuate as well, and I can only imagine the stress it caused for the families of people I know and care about.”


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