Recent Press

Dream home reduced to ashes

Sitting in a medical clinic on a sunny Santa Barbara morning, waiting for a doctor to refill his prescriptions, is not how James Patterson wanted to spend his Friday. Mr. Patterson, 76, a retired real estate agent, said he was home alone when he spotted the fire. “When it first started, I looked right out our breakfast nook . . . and I could see the fire over by Westmont,” about 2 1/2 miles to the east, said Mr. Patterson. more

Westmont takes double hit from Tea Fire – Faculty homes, physics and psychology departments destroyed

For some faculty members at Westmont College, the Tea Fire hit twice as hard, destroying where they live and work. As flames roared across the picturesque campus, buildings that housed the physics and psychology departments were destroyed. Nearby, single-family homes used by faculty members met the same fate. “That’s traumatic, to have your work and your office gone,” said Scott Craig, Westmont’s manager of media relations. more

Battle against 1,500-acre Tea Fire rages on – Blaze has damaged or destroyed up to 200 homes

Officials from multiple jurisdictions Friday described the countless efforts to contain the 1,500-acre Tea Fire, which has destroyed or damaged as many as 200 homes in Montecito and Santa Barbara and led to the evacuation of approximately 5,500 homes. Fire investigators were still working to determine what — or who — ignited the blaze, which started near the Tea Gardens, an unoccupied early 1990s estate located above the Westmont College campus. more

Governor tours fire damage

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger toured a neighborhood of Westmont faculty homes this morning, summing up the devastation caused by the Tea Fire by saying it “looks like hell.” The visit comes as favorable weather conditions allow crews on the ground and in the air to get a handle on the blaze, which has cost $3.5 million to fight so far, and as crews from outside the area are being released to help battle a nearly 3,000-acre blaze in Sylmar, which has burned 600 homes. Mr. Schwarzenegger said FEMA has promised to help Montecito and Santa Barbara residents affected by the Tea Fire. He also said interest-free loans could be available “to help bring these people’s lives back.” more


An exclusive Southern California coastal town beloved by moguls, movie stars and artists for its natural beauty and stunning estates went up in flames yesterday – with more than 100 homes completely destroyed and thousands of evacuees fleeing for their lives. … In addition to the dozens of luxury homes razed in the blaze, eight buildings at Westmont College were destroyed as well as the picturesque Mount Calvary Monastery in the Santa Ynez Mountains. “You’ve got palm trees and eucalyptus trees that are literally exploding with their hot oil,” said Scott Craig, spokesman at Westmont, a Christian liberal-arts college. “You’ve got these big, red hot embers that are flying through the sky and catching anything on fire.” more

BURNING CAMPUS: Fire sweeps Westmont College as students strum

The Westmont College gym was itchy hot and getting hotter. Eye-burning smoke seeped inside, despite blue duct tape that sealed the cracks between the double doors. As campus officials repeatedly assured about 800 students and faculty that this sturdy, cinder-block gym was the safest place to be, evacuees formed prayer circles on the wooden floor. more

Westmont May Reopen Wednesday: Academics Will Go on Despite Damage

Despite the Tea Fire’s destruction of several buildings on the Westmont College campus, classes may restart as early as Wednesday, less than a week after 800 students huddled in the gym while fire ravaged their campus. more

Montecito blaze ravages homes

Firefighters were holding their own Friday against a wildfire that destroyed more than 150 homes in a wealthy, celebrity-studded enclave, but authorities warned that evening wind gusts could send the blaze on another destructive sprint. Blistering winds gusting to 70 mph, dry brush and oil-rich eucalyptus trees helped turn an ordinary brush fire into an exploding inferno that quickly consumed rows of luxury homes and part of Westmont College, where students spent the night in a gymnasium. more video


The Paper Trail Wildfires Scorch Westmont College

The fast-moving California wildfire that has destroyed 100 homes, scorched 2,500 acres so far, and injured 13 has also struck Westmont College, a small, Christian liberal arts school in Santa Barbara. Officials report that several buildings, including a number of faculty homes, have been “lost or significantly damaged,” the Associated Press reports. more

ART REVIEW : Garden art party – Local sculptor Donald Davis' sculptures resonate well in the open outside Reynolds Gallery

For all of Santa Barbara’s surprising riches of cultural resources and virtues, the tradition of the sculpture garden is notably scarce here. We have been experiencing an ad hoc, public “sculpture garden” of sorts this fall, courtesy of the biennial “State of the Art Gallery,” with pieces lining State Street. But that doesn’t quite count, given the presence of asphalt and bored tourist foot traffic. For a more genuine, definitive article, one has to head out to Westmont College’s Reynolds Gallery ó always a pleasurable, bucolic prospect in and of itself. more