Recent Press

The Buzz: Wildfires on campus

Investigators say a smoldering bonfire ignited a blaze Nov. 13 in Santa Barbara, Calif., that burned 2,500 acres, destroyed more than 200 homes, and inflicted heavy damage on Westmont College, a 1,300-student Christian liberal arts school. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the fire resulted from carelessness after 10 young adults failed to extinguish sufficiently a fire they had built on a mountain ridge near the Christian liberal arts college. more

Westmont Students Return To Campus

Westmont College was one of the first areas to be ravaged by the Tea Fire. The campus lost several buildings in the blaze, including student dorms and faculty housing. On Saturday, more than two weeks after the fire broke out, the school re-opened it’s doors. more video

Ties run deeper than just soccer

Nearly 10 years ago now, Westmont soccer coach Dave Wolf came to the home of Jaime Ramirez. He wanted to recruit Jaime’s son, Orlando, to play college soccer. He had asked Jaime if that would be OK, and while most dads would have been thrilled to have a college coach court their son, this had the potential to be awkward. You see, Jaime Ramirez was also a college soccer coach, also recruiting Orlando Ramirez, his own son. more

Sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture

IN A college soccer game in California two weeks ago, Harrison Hill scored for Westmont College against Azusa Pacific University. The names are obscure, but the story deserves to be famous. It was told in the Los Angeles Times by Bill Plaschke. “Hill turned and ran. He ran past the teammate who at this moment owned only the uniform on his back. He ran past a teammate who had prepared for the game by searching Craigslist for a place to sleep. He ran off the field and into the arms of one who had lost more than any of them.” The previous week, Westmont coach (and father of five) Dave Wolf lost his house in a wildfire. Hill hugged the teary-eyed Wolf, lifted him up and whispered: “This is the first brick in your new house.” more

Village Beat: A Crane Thanksgiving

Among tables adorned with pumpkins and leaves, students, parents and teachers at Crane Country Day School celebrated the season with a Thanksgiving feast. The meal, complete with turkey, stuffing, and all the traditional fixings, had special meaning this year as the school community embraced three of its own families who lost their homes in the Tea Fire. Earlier in the day, Crane students, with the help of volunteers from Westmont, spent hours assembling sifters to donate to Tea Fire victims. Teachers Bob Ingersoll, Phil von Phul and Chris Reussner organized the effort. Materials were donated by local construction company Giffin & Crane; Geoff Crane is grandson of the founder of the school. “They really feel like they’re doing something to contribute,” Williams said about the students helping fire victims. In all, about sixty sifters were made and donated. more

Celebrity Fires Consume Media

As I write this, I’m still waiting to go back home; the mandatory evacuation remains in effect for my neighborhood in Montecito after the devastating “Tea Fire.” My son and I stayed at my house longer than we should have, filling the cars with keepsakes and watering the place down with a garden hose until the howling winds driving the smoke and embers seemed too threatening. I found a creative way past police barricades the next morning to see that my house survived, along with all the houses on Chelham Way. I live adjacent to Westmont College, which lost nine structures, and the next street over from mine, Westmont Road, lost a number of homes. more

Thanksgiving 2008: Here Follow Some Thoughts on the Burning of Westmont

The call from our son Daniel–late afternoon on Thursday, about 6:30–was calm, reassuring. He anticipated that we would soon hear about the fires scorching the hilltop chaparral of Montecito and was eager to report his shelter in the cinder-block gymnasium. The danger, at least then, seemed remote: we talked of homework and soccer matches. Much of our comfort came from memory. From my own college days at UC Santa Barbara, I recalled that Westmont’s gym was a haven of choice for Montecito evacuees whenever the flames began streaking down the canyons. Those brushfires–the worst in Santa Barbara until now–spared Westmont of all but modest scarring. more

Actor on destroyed home: ‘It’s amazing, it’s just gone’

The “Tea Fire” which started at the privately owned Tea Garden Estate, about a mile north of Santa Barbara’s Westmont College, ripped through an area that Oprah Winfrey, Michael Douglas, Rob Lowe and other celebrities call home. more

Grandmother of Arroyo Grande boy hit by bullet is thankful he's alive

Cherie Crockett of Shell Beach, whose grandson was shot in the arm Saturday after a stray bullet pierced a window of his parent’s home near San Luis Obispo, said she has a lot to be thankful for this year. Just two weeks before, her son, who lives in Montecito in Westmont College faculty housing, was evacuated with his family during the Tea Fire. more

Westmont readies for students' return : Classes resume Dec. 1 after extended break caused by Tea Fire

Since the Tea Fire leveled a slew of academic and residential buildings at Westmont College on Nov. 13, administrators have been focusing on making the campus ready for its 1,200 students to resume classes one week from today. The fire, which began at the nearby Tea Gardens, gutted 15 faculty residences and nine other structures: four buildings that make up Clark Halls, Bauder Hall, the physics building, the old math building and two Quonset huts. Fourteen of the faculty homes that were destroyed were located in Las Barrancas, an area that’s adjacent to the campus where the college built 41 homes for its professors. more