Fires blaze over the weekend


Recent fire at Mt. Baldy brings the heat close to home. Photo from CNN.

On Friday, November 2nd, a small vegetation fire ignited the base of Mount Baldy. By 9:30 p.m., the fire had torn through nearly 12 acres.  

As I was driving home from Webb on Friday night, I witnessed the fire first-handedly. It was very difficult driving on the freeway as I was distracted by the big cloud of smoke and bright red flames in the not-so-far distance. I have never been that close to a fire, and it seemed much bigger than reality. I started to get concerned if the fire had trapped anyone, or if it would continue to grow, since fires can be very unpredictable.  Curious if my fellow peers witnessed the fire, I asked other Webb students.

Bridgid Corbin (‘19) was driving up Mills at approximately 6 p.m. when she noticed that the parking lot near the Claremont loop was packed full of firetrucks, cop cars, and heavy machinery.  Bridgid said, “I had never seen that many emergency vehicles in my life.” She lives close to the area where the fire was-so close that she could smell the smoke.

Andrew Neyer, math department faculty and WSC golf coach, said he was asked by Greg Gerken, humanities department faculty, to drive a group of students up to Potato Mountain for a night hike. Mr. Neyer was called around 9 p.m., not long after the kids were dropped off to go back. Mr. Neyer said, “I left campus and went to go pick them up.”  

As he drove past the juncture where Padua Street meets Baldy, he encountered a police blockade.  This moment is when Mr. Neyer thought: “This might be a big deal.”

The hikers were so close to the fire that Mr. Neyer had to pass through two police blockades just to get to the entrance of the hike. Mr. Neyer proceeded to get a police escort to Potato Mountain where he safely picked up the hikers.     

No injuries were reported and no structures were threatened. The fire was thankfully extinguished, with no evacuations necessary. Looking back on the fire, Brigid wishes that there had been more communication between the fire department and residents nearby. Hopefully, as the weather gets colder, these fires will become less frequent