Yearly Archives: 2008

North Prairie native eludes California wildfires

When North Prairie native Ashley Florian left her dormitory at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif., Thursday afternoon for an off-campus ministry, she never expected it would rearrange her life for the next week. Florian and the rest of the group she was with started getting text messages and phone calls from classmates asking where they were and if they were safe. Florian said they went outside and looked toward the hills where school was, and all they saw was the orange glow of wildfires. more

Vail Christian grads escape California wildfire

With wildfires continuing to ravage the state of California, two former Vail, Colorado residents found themselves in the middle of the inferno last Thursday in Montecito. Westmont student Jake Blair graduated from Vail Christian High School in 2006, and was returning from doing laundry around 6 p.m. when he saw flames on a hillside along Highway 101. more

Westmont College deals with Tea fire damage

Santa Barbara County’s fire destructive “Tea” brushfire has finally been contained, afer destroying 210 homes, and blackening more than 19-hundred acres. KCLU’s Lance Orozco reports from one of the hardest hit areas….Westmont College….where a number of campus buildings, and faculty home were destroyed. more

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