MARK PATTON : Spirit of Westmont arises from the ashes

Westmont College was under siege, a raging inferno at its gates, and all its good citizens had taken refuge in Murchison Gymnasium. Thursday night’s Tea Fire would become a defining moment in the history of the small Christian college that is tucked into the scenic foothills of Montecito. Russell Smelley, the school’s track and cross country coach, barely had time to evacuate his family from the nearby cluster of faculty housing. It was about 5:50 p.m. when his wife, Allison, called his office. more

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