first_imgLAFD reported that the Tick Fire in Santa Clarita threatened 10,000 residents and covered 4,615 acres.  (Photo from Twitter / L.A. County Fire Department) “Safety is our foremost concern, so please coordinate with your department or unit to discuss class cancellations or allow for working remotely if need be,” Miller wrote.  While USC is not in close proximity to any of the fires devastating L.A., students, faculty and staff from the surrounding area have felt its effects. Monday Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Dean Amber Miller told students in an email expressing her support for students affected by the fires that she and her family were awakened by smoke and had to evacuate their home early that morning.   “I am from the Central Valley [and] we get a lot of the debris from the fires whether they are happening up north or down south,” said Audra Magness, a sophomore majoring in theatre. “Just this weekend, I was traveling from Fresno back to Los Angeles and the entire grapevine was so bogged down by smoke.” Students at Mount Saint Mary’s University evacuated their Brentwood campus. Local colleges such as Santa Monica College and UCLA canceled classes Monday.  Magness says she is more worried now that the fires have reached L.A. and hopes that they will be able to control it before it begins to affect urban parts of the city.  She believes that USC should take several actions to ensure that students are safe, including providing free masks at the health center and issuing periodic updates about the fire to help students stay up-to-date.  Emails from deans also listed services offered by USC to those affected by the fires or looking for a place to stay after evacuating their homes, such as Campus Support & Intervention, Trojans Care 4 Trojans and various counseling services. “We were lucky enough to have family in the area, so we had a place to go, and our family is safe,” Miller wrote. “Many in our USC Dornsife community affected by the Getty Fire may not be as lucky as we are. If you are in need of help, please know that your USC Dornsife family has your back, and we fully support whatever measures you need to take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.” While fires in California are common, the power outages this year have worsened the situation for families in affected areas. Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric have been shutting off power for thousands of residents across California in an effort to prevent fires. However, these companies have failed to inform residents of planned blackouts and have sparked controversial backlash from those concerned with a lack of power in disaster areas. “I just think I want to understand better why PG&E must shut down power due to these fires because they’ve gotten into a lot of trouble for being the instigator of these fires,” Yang said. “If anything its causing more inconvenience and problems … but also the fires are still happening.” “I think it’s pretty scary that it’s reaching L.A. proper because normally it’s contained or farther away from the center of the city,” Magness said. “Now that it’s … [close to] UCLA, I feel like they will get it under control but [in] the city, everything is so close together — as soon as one thing catches fire, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of other things, in turn, set ablaze and it’s a big tragedy if that happens.” She mentions how her family had to cancel a trip to Napa Valley in November due to the raging wildfires and wonders why PG&E has to cut off the power supply. The Kincade Fire in Sonoma County has spread to more than 74,000 acres and was only 15% contained at time of publication. However, UCLA cancelled classes in 2017 after poor air quality resulting from similar fires caused concerns among the university community. The fires have resulted in the closure of several major freeways in L.A, including the 405 Freeway near the Getty Center, where a brush fire continues to burn through more than 600 acres with 5% containment at time of publication. Dozens of schools and universities in the city are closed until further notice due to hazardous air quality and their proximity to the fires.  “I don’t think I’ve ever really had like to experience power outages,” said Florence Yang, a sophomore majoring in computer science. “I don’t know what people are supposed to do back at home because if you go inside, there’s no power there, but if you go outside, the air is bad.”  Strong Santa Ana winds brought raging fires to Los Angeles this past weekend. As the Getty, Saddleridge and Tick fires continue to burn throughout the city, causing thousands to evacuate, the USC community has felt the impacts of the devastation. According to the Times, the Getty and Kincade fires have smoke advisory warnings that have been issued in affected areas and “very unhealthy” air quality is widespread — from Northern California to the San Fernando Valley. Audra Magness, a sophomore majoring in theatre, went to Fresno over the weekend and saw a lot of the smoke while returning to L.A. Sunday. She said her hometown is affected by fires every year and has dealt with poor air quality.  A similar email of support was sent from Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Dean Willow Bay Monday and Price School of Public Policy Dean Jack Knott. Melody Yao, a sophomore majoring in economics-mathematics, said while she is not directly affected by the fire, she remembers her high school in Northern California canceling classes for several days due to previous fires. last_img

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