California Wildfires Impact Adventist Communities


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Students at Glendale Adventist Academy were told not to come to school Monday morning as smoke from nearby wildfires turned the sky dark brown.

Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, is one of many communities in Southern California with hazardous air quality brought on by fires burning out of control. Although Glendale Adventist Academy's automated voice messaging system told callers that no school closures were currently in effect (as of Monday morning), a school representative confirmed to Spectrum that the school has been closed pending further notice from city officials. Classes began at GAA two weeks ago.

The school itself was not in immediate danger, though the Signal fire's perimeter came within five miles of the campus.

The Altadena Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Sunland-Tujunga Community Seventh-day Adventist Church are both situated in neighborhoods where mandatory evacuations were in effect late Sunday night. As of Monday morning, neither church appeared to be under direct threat from the blaze, but the Station fire claimed numerous structures according to several media reports. Church members with homes in the affected areas await signals from officials that it is safe to return home. Some may be returning to fire-damaged neighborhoods.

Smoke from the fire was visible throughout the Los Angeles metroplex, blotting out the sun.

Farther east, another fire continues to burn in the San Bernardino Forest in the Yucaipa/Oak Glen community near Loma Linda, California. Reports indicate that the Oak Glen III fire doubled in size overnight, charring some 900 acres. A large Adventist population lives in the area between Yucaipa (west of Oak Glen) and Cherry Valley (east of Oak Glen). The Yucaipa Seventh-day Adventist Church and Mesa Grande Academy, a K-12 Adventist school, were both within five miles of the fire.

Residents of Oak Glen and parts of Yucaipa received evacuation orders as fire crews fought on the ground and by air to bring the blaze under control.

Good news for residents of Hemet, California (20 miles farther east) came Monday as fire crews had yet another fire 95% contained. KTLA.com reported Monday afternoon that firefighters subdued the Cottonwood fire, which claimed 2,409 acres. Over 750 firefighters battled flames under extremely hot, arid conditions.

The Cottonwood fire erupted in an area approximately ten miles from the Hemet Seventh-day Adventist Church, and another ten miles from Pine Springs Ranch, the Southeastern California Conference camp and conference center. Pine Springs Ranch has had numerous fire threats, but has not been burned by wildfires. Each year, staff members clear brush from around the camp's cabins and other buildings ahead of a busy fire season that corresponds with PSR's summer youth camp.

Wildfires are a perennial threat to residents of Southern California where thousands of acres of dry forest land butt up against dense residential areas.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1819