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Families of students forced to evacuate after destructive California wildfires



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The Camp Fire continues to burn Nov. 11 outside of Pulga, California, on the North Fork of the Feather River. The fire got its name after Camp Creek Road, which is where the fire started.  Tribune News Service Buy Photos

A series of four wildfires broke out Nov. 8 in California, forcing some families of IU students to evacuate their homes and seek protection.

Camp Fire, which started in northern California’s Butte County, has already killed 48 civilians and destroyed 135,000 acres as of Nov. 13, making it the deadliest in state history. Woolsey Fire, which is burning near Los Angeles, California has forced the evacuation of over 265,000 people. 

Junior Alex Sharp, who is from the West Hills neighborhood in Los Angeles, said his family was among those evacuated. On Nov. 9, firefighters knocked on the family’s door and told them a mandatory evacuation was in place. 

“I had major panic and major anxiety once I found out that my family and friends had to leave,” Sharp said. 

Two other fires, Nurse Fire and Hill Fire, also started Nov. 8, but have since been 90 and 94 percent contained, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. The department also said the Camp Fire is 35 percent contained and the Woolsey Fire is 47 percent contained.

The fires broke out less than a day after 13 people were killed by a shooter at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, which sophomore Savannah Lewis said greatly affected the community. She said the fires were very poorly timed, coming right before the holiday season and after the shooting. 

“I have such a great time with my family when I’m home during the holidays,” Lewis said. “It’s sad that so many won’t get to experience that this year.”

Despite the recent tragedies in her community, Lewis said residents of her neighborhood, West Hills, have inspired her by banding together to gather donations and volunteer. 

“Firefighters have actually had to stop accepting donations because they’ve received so many, which never happens,” Lewis said.

Sharp said grocery stores and local businesses have been donating food and water to volunteers and firefighters.

“It was really uplifting and definitely restored my faith in humanity,” Sharp said.

Sharp said the firefighters were quick to stop the flames once they came close to his neighborhood.

“The firemen were unbelievable good at their job,” Sharp said. “If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have house right now.”

Despite being in contact with her family and inspired by her neighbors, Lewis said she still feels helpless being so far away.

“Being 2000 miles away all you can do is send your love and hope,” Lewis said. 

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