California forest fires devastate CSU, state alike

Audrey Weiss

According to USA Today, the California forest fires have claimed the lives of 85 people since it started Nov. 8. The fire in Paradise, California has since been contained, as of Nov. 25, yet its impact continued.

Photos released during the fire show California residents all over the state trekking through smoky streets. The air quality has been deemed some of the worst in the world.

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What’s more, flights leaving and entering the Bay Area experienced delays due to the hazy skies.

But California isn’t the only state being ransacked by these fires. Colorado State University too feels an impact.

Back about 15 years ago, I had a series of meetings at a large church there. That church is gone—destroyed.” -Caleb Rosado, CSU Ethnic Studies Professor

Eve Etchegoyen, a freshman equine science major, grew up in Orange County California. She said her family and friends have been affected by the poor air quality. She even noticed the difference while visiting over fall break.

“I was sneezing a lot and having a lot of headaches,” Etchegoyen said. “I know my family who lives up in Northern California (experienced worse) air quality near Berkeley.”

She recalled students walking around with face masks due to the poor conditions.

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  • A melted tire swing still hangs from a tree in the remains of a backyard in the neighborhood of Point Dume in Malibu, CA as a result of the Woolsey Fire. (AJ Frankson)

  • A heap of ash and rubble is all that remains of a residence in Malibu, CA after the Woolsey Fire tarnished through the neighborhood of Point Dume. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • A residence has caution tape around its front light, indicating a property damaged by the Woolsey Fire. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • A maintenance worker repairs a telephone pole, which had been damaged by the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, CA. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • The ashes of a beachfront residence in Malibu, CA remain among the intact houses around it. The haphazard nature of the Woolsey Fire was evident even after it was extinguished, as one devastated house could be just next door to a house that was lucky enough to be untouched by the fire. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • Palm trees in Malibu, CA remain standing with scorched bark and singed leaves. Most of the scattered million-dollar homes were left standing among the ashes of dirt and plants around them. Once the fire had gotten out of control, firefighters focused on saving the homes rather than completely extinguishing the fire. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • A melted residential trash can lays on its side with garbage pouring out in Point Dume, a neighborhood in Malibu, CA. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • An American flag rests on the back of a burnt truck after the damage of the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, CA. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • A white picket fence is melted to the ground in places as a result of the Woolsey fire. Seeing melted fences around property was not uncommon driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, CA. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • An N95 dust mask rests among the rubble of a devastated residence in Malibu, CA. Firefighters and other fire survivors stress the use of respirators such as this mask because of the risk of “valley fever,” an infection that can be acquired from breathing in dangerous chemicals that have been burned during a large-scale fire such as the Woolsey Fire. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • Ash lines the walls of a shed, which is all that remains on a property after the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, CA. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

  • Workers prepare for ash and mud slides after the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, CA. Several people were devastated by mudslides after the California fires in 2017, so the city is looking to prevent such catastrophes from happening now. Though the fire is completely extinguished, some neighborhoods still have evacuation warnings due to the possibility of mudslides in the near future. (AJ Frankson | Collegian)

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Etchegoyen lives about an hour south of the fires, but her friends and family living in Malibu, California were evacuated from their homes.

CSU ethnic studies adjunct professor Caleb Rosado grew up in Humboldt County, California, just a few hours from the fires. He now lives in Windsor, but his family still resides in California.

Rosado said he had close family friends who lost everything in the Paradise fire. One of his friends worked at the Feather River Hospital in Paradise, which experienced damage. Now, it is unclear whether the building will reopen at all.

Rosado also heard that many buildings he’d grown accustomed to were lost in the fire.

“Back about 15 years ago I had a series of meetings at a large church there,” Rosado said. “That church is gone—destroyed.”

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While the geographical destruction has ceased, the air quality remains incredibly poor, and it is recommended that residents try to stay inside or wear masks to decrease the amount of smoke they inhale.

Michael Durkin, the education specialist for the Poudre Fire Authority, suggested that those planning to visit follow different agencies around California that are releasing alerts and warnings beforehand to prepare people for the aftermath.

“Follow what the state of California has to say,” Durkin said. “They have a (good) handle on what the region requires.”

Audrey Weiss can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @audkward.