The Getty Fire, blazing just off of the 405 freeway on Monday, Oct. 28, was one of the several fires ravaging Southern California. The fire forced around 200,000 residents out of their homes and placed nearly 10,000 structures under mandatory evacuation.
Sophomore Ryan Pack, a resident of the Pacific Palisades, said, “My family received a call at three in the morning and had to start packing at four. We drove all the way to Santa Monica, and we couldn’t get back to our homes because of the smoke.”
Flames swiftly spread because of the strong Santa Ana winds that topped 80 miles per hour and cast embers a mile ahead of the body of the blaze, igniting new fires and homes along the fire’s path.
Sophomore Kaiis Jarrahy, who also lives in the Pacific Palisades, said, “Our house is located on the very edge of the evacuation zone. The experience wasn’t traumatizing, but I got a little nervous when the winds started to pick up.”
As California struggles with dry terrain and climate change, the risk of another fire grows. California’s irregular rain means that plants dry out during the spring and summer, making them easily ignitable.
According to preliminary findings, the Getty Fire was caused by a tree branch that fell on a power line. Power companies began to shut off power to more than two million homes in an effort to prevent the heavy winds from starting yet more brush fires.
Jarrahy said, “Even though the lights kept going out, I just kept my head down and continued to do my schoolwork. I checked the fire updates on my computer regularly to make sure that my home was safe from the fires.”
Although some students could commute to Loyola without much trouble, the traffic in Los Angeles became even worse for some Westside and Valley residents because the fires were burning close to the freeways.
Sophomore Will Walker said, “Most commuters in Los Angeles already know the traffic is terrible to begin with. Luckily, I didn’t have to take any alternate routes, and the commute to school wasn’t that bad.”
Many members of our Loyola community have been affected by the fires, especially those in the Westside. More than 150 LAFD firefighters battled the fire as the flames came close to the multi-million dollar homes in that area. Additionally, the hillside terrain proved difficult to work on.
Jarrahy said, “I didn’t have firefighters stationed outside of my home, but most of the roads in my residence were closed down.”
Some homeowners used hoses to extinguish the overwhelming blaze themselves while others ran down their driveways to escape. About 200 homes were placed under mandatory evacuation, and although the steep terrain proved difficult to work on, the fire was contained.
Junior George Tien said, “At Loyola the teachers and students can connect with you on a more emotional level. Transitioning was pretty difficult with the whole fire situation, and I am just glad there are people there for me.”
The Loyola community faced a tragedy; nevertheless, the school continues to pray for those affected by the fires and to support its students and families.