Update on the Southern California wildfires

California’s fire season kicked off to a busy start this year as over four local fires caused destruction throughout the Southern California area. By now, many Californians have become accustomed to the annual fires that scorch through brush and homes. 

Like many areas in California, Cal Poly Pomona and its students were affected by the harsh smell of smoke and ash last week due to the proximity of fires. Many students experienced discomfort and health concerns as the strong, burning odor was present all across campus.

Bryan A. Tapia, a fourth-year psychology student, noticed the strong burning odor outdoors and inside the classroom. “Once I got onto campus and even once I got into class, the smoke and the smell was still there,” Tapia said. 

Flames from the Hillside Fire erupted near a residential area in San Bernardino.
(Courtesy of Jillian Coovert)

Listed are the current updates of the local fires:

Castlewood Fire

The Castlewood fire began Oct. 30 and forced nearby residents to evacuate their homes. According to the Fullerton Police Department’s public information Twitter account, the blaze burned a total of 11 acres in the area of Gilbert and Castlewood in Fullerton.

Arson experts are currently investigating the fire as a flare gun was discovered near the fire. No injuries were reported. 

The fire was fully contained on Oct. 31. 

Hillside Fire

Reported in the early hours of Oct. 31, the Hillside fire quickly spread due to high winds in the northern area of San Bernardino. The fire caused temporary closures on Highway 18 from Highway 138 to 40th Street, according to Caltrans’ District 8 Twitter account, but was shortly reopened as of 6:18 p.m. Oct. 31.

Burning for nine days thus far, the San Bernardino National Forest Service and San Bernardino County Fire have the fire listed as 95% contained. The fire has burned 200 acres, destroyed six homes and damaged 18 others.  

Shane Massoud, California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) public information officer of District 8, stated Caltrans doesn’t have any expertise when it comes to fighting fires. “We are in the role of assisting the U.S. Forest Service by manning the road closure on Highway 18,” Massoud said. 

There are currently no evacuations in the area. 

Getty Fire 

Started Oct. 28, the Getty Fire burned for nine days before the Los Angeles Fire Department fully contained it on Nov. 5. 

The fire burned a total of 745 acres in the Brentwood area. According to investigators, the cause of the fire was determined to be a tree branch that broke off and struck power lines. 

A total of 10 homes were destroyed and 15 damaged according to the L.A. Fire Department website. The fire forced students at Mount Saint Mary’s University to evacuate in the early hours of the morning. According to the Los Angeles fire department’s website, mandatory evacuations were enforced upon residents from Mandeville Canyon Road to Sunset Boulevard. 

All evacuation orders were lifted as of 10 a.m. Oct. 28. 

Jim Medina, Caltrans’ public information officer of District 7, said there was initially misinformation circulating about the Interstate 405 freeway being shut down. “We corrected that online and noted that it was open; it was slow going, but it was open,” Medina said. 

Hill Fire 

The Hill Fire broke out Oct. 30 and burned 628 acres, according to the Riverside County Fire Department’s website. The blaze began at Granite Hill and Pyrite Street in Jurupa Valley and lasted three days. 

No homes were destroyed, but several motorhomes were damaged, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. Mandatory evacuations for the Santiago Estates Mobile Home Park were set when the fire first broke out and State Route 60 (SR-60) was closed in both directions.

All evacuations have been lifted as of 6:45 p.m. Oct. 30, and the SR-60 was reopened shortly after the initial closure. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation and was fully contained Nov. 2.

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