Recent Press

Soccer team helps Westmont College rise from ashes

The small college near Santa Barbara, devastated by last week’s Montecito fire, begins healing with help from upstart team’s 2-0 victory over defending NAIA champion Azusa Pacific. more

From Westmont to the Riviera, Fire Families Are Touched by Community

When Russell Smelley, a Westmont College kinesiology professor and the school’s cross country and track coach, saw the Tea Fire racing down the mountain toward his neighborhood of faculty housing Thursday, he and his wife, Allison, went straight for their daughter’s room. Alyssa had died of a brain tumor 2½ years before, at age 15, and her belongings in the bedroom were precious. more

Whitworth to send support to Westmont students

Whitworth plans to send notes and gifts of encouragement this week to peers at Westmont College, whose campus was ravaged by a wildfire Nov. 13. The fire, known as the Tea Fire, burned through 1,500 acres in Santa Barbara County, Calif., last week, including eight buildings of the Westmont campus. more

Warriors win unlikely title in face of tragedy

After one of the longest weeks of his life, Westmont men’s soccer head coach Dave Wolf finally caught a break. Four days after his home burned to the ground as a result of the Tea Fire in Montecito, Wolf watched from the bench as his team won the Golden State Athletic Conference Championship by defeating No. 5 Azusa Pacific (13-4-3) 2-0. Wolf was not the only member of the Warrior program to have suffered a loss as a result of the fire. Senior midfielder Jonathon Schoff and his six roommates lost the home they rented a mile from campus and the dorm room of freshman defender Zach George was consumed by the blaze. Sophomore Ben Gordon, who lived in the same dormitory as George, also suffered damage to his room when it was flooded as a result of the fire fighting effort. more

Helping those who lost it all

Developer Nick Narang has opened the doors of his new Lavender Court condominium complex in Carpinteria to survivors of the Tea Fire. Mr. Narang is offering six open units — free of charge — to families that lost their homes to the Tea Fire. Mr. Narang has already housed two families and seven Westmont College students in three open condos. more

SBARL : Fire foremost on the sports-minded – Coaches cite real-life heroes during luncheon

Sports can often function as a pastime for the world-weary, or even serve as an inspiration during troubling times. But even those for whom sports is life or a living willingly took a back seat to those who put something much greater on the line during the devastating Tea Fire that ravaged the hillsides of Montecito and Santa Barbara. Monday’s press luncheon featured plenty of observations from area coaches who uniformly praised the work of police, firefighters, and local community members who battled back against the flames that ultimately claimed more than 200 homes. Westmont head coach John Moore opened up the luncheon by leading a special prayer for those who have lost their homes and for those who were still working to stop the fire completely. “The real heroes are those firefighting men and women,” said Moore, whose own house was saved through the direct action of a fire unit (Truck No. 315) that went to battle in his neighborhood. more

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

LITTLE CHARMER : Baby's winning smile takes her to semi-finals of national photo contest

Local cutie Isabella Masuno was one of eight babies that drew the most “awws” in Good Morning America’s cover contest for Babytalk Magazine. The Santa Barbara baby had one person in her corner that offset the effects of jet lag — her father, a chemistry professor at Westmont College. more

Chorale gives grand seasonal prelude : Tea Fire, illness couldn't deter bout of holiday cheer

From the earliest majestic strains of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, grandly presented this weekend by the Santa Barbara Master Chorale, at the First Presbyterian Church, one could sense extra measures of passion from the orchestral and choral forces gathered. Chorale director Steven Hodson, a Westmont faculty member, lost his house in the blaze. But the concert went on and it was dedicated to Mr. Hodson and the many others affected by the ferocious conflagration. more

Sorting through the Rubble: Westmont College rebuilds after fire destroys 20 percent of its campus

Westmont College professors and students began sifting through the ashes yesterday as some coped with the loss of their homes and departments. Classes were canceled until December 1 to give the campus time to recover from the November 13 fire that destroyed 20 percent of its buildings but injured no one. The fire destroyed three academic buildings, more than 30 dorm rooms, and 14 of the 41 college-owned faculty houses at the Christian liberal arts college in Santa Barbara, California. more