hot and windy

Westmont College in Santa Barbara was caught in a firestorm Thursday evening.  Several hundred students had to spend the night in the gym; nine campus buildings (including four small dorm buildings and three buildings slated for demolition) and 14 faculty homes were destroyed.  Today they sent everyone away and told them not to come back until the all-clear is announced.  Classes are cancelled until at least Wednesday.

It's so surreal to hear about this going on from just down the road in Ventura County.  From what I have been able to gather, my faculty friends are not among those who lost their homes.  I feel particularly for the undergrads who have travelled far to attend Westmont.  I would have found a disaster on my college campus especially distressing being 2000 miles from home -- and I had family friends in the immediate area I knew I could lean on for anything.  The thought crossed my mind this morning to call the campus switchboard and offer short-term housing for some displaced students or family.  But I have guests coming on Monday.  Provided the Santa Barbara airport is open.

Turns out, the college did put out a call for housing help -- and found a place for everyone.  But they're just starting to figure out where to put the students who lost dorm rooms when they reopen campus.  

Tonight, the winds have died down enough to facilitate the firefighting.  The fire is still officially 0% contained, but unless the weather turns uncooperative again, it sounds like the worst is over.  (Meanwhile, there's a new fire burning in LA county.  Apparently, that's life in these parts.)


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