California wildfires hit close to home for some SDSU students

The Hill, Woolsey and Camp fires that burned more than 250,000 acres and killed over 80 people in California were mostly contained Wednesday, and San Diego State is offering assistance those who have been affected.

Although the nearest fire was more than 200 miles from SDSU’s campus, students with family in the affected areas have said they felt the stress of the situation significantly.

“I live in Oak Park (in Ventura County) and my house backs up to the hillside where the fires started in between Simi Valley and Oak Park,” marketing sophomore Lucas Ramirez said. “I was watching in San Diego and my house was on TV with flames meters from it so I thought we lost it, but firefighters saved it.”

While Ramirez said his family was safe, his community took a hard hit.

“My parents evacuated once it was mandatory and within an hour, Oak Park was engulfed,” Ramirez said. “I was lucky to not lose my house, but a lot of my friends lost theirs in the community.”

An email from the California State University on Nov. 13 said accommodations will be made to anyone applying to any CSU for the fall 2019 term. Students who are unable to meet the Nov. 30 application deadline due to the wildfires will be given an extension if requested by the deadline.

For those who qualify for the extension, the email said applications will be extended to Dec. 15. Application fees will also be waived for up to four CSU campuses if needed.

A Nov. 14 email from President Adela de la Torre said SDSU is offering full support to current students who have been impacted by the fires as well. Students who need emotional support will be able to contact SDSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services and, for academic support, students are encouraged to contact SDSU Dean of Students Randy Timm.

SDSU is prepared to help process and address any student need, whether emotional or academic, and connect students with those at SDSU who can offer the best support,” de la Torre said in the campus-wide email.

The wildfires began on Nov. 8, and the Camp Fire in Butte County soon became the deadliest fire in state history. Many students felt concerns about returning home to poor air quality as Thanksgiving break neared.

“My family (could not) go outside,” kinesiology freshman Chelsea Bouquet said. “Where I live, the smoke is definitely affecting our area. I flew back to San Diego from San Jose and the air quality was hazardous and so bad.”

While some students have not been as directly affected, they said the idea of these flames being so close to home still hurts.

“I am from Brazil, but I love California,” business freshman Lucca Queiroz said. “Anything that affects the state and the people that live here affects me too.”

With many people referring to the recent influx in dangerous wildfires as the “new normal,” some students have said this is something they’re not ready to get used to.

“I couldn’t even put myself in people’s shoes and think about losing everything,” business real estate senior Nicolette Biagi said. “I can’t imagine having to leave my home and whole life because of wildfires erupting.”

De la Torre’s email said donations are needed for SDSU’s sister campuses, CSU Chico, CSU Channel Islands and Sonoma State University who have been directly affected by the fires. Those wanting to help aid the relief fund can donate on the universities’ websites.

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