2018 has been a long year for people in California. With a total of 7,579 fires, the 2018 wildfire season burned an area of 1,667,855 acres, making it the most destructive wildfire season recorded in the history of the state.
In mid-July to August 2018, a series of wildfires erupted across California, mainly affecting the northern part of the state. Just a few weeks before the Thanksgiving break, another round of large wildfires to erupted across the state as a result of strong winds. The resultingly poor air quality as a result of the California wildfire turned Thanksgiving into a half-a-month break for most students in the University of California. For Northwestern students 2145.9 miles away from California, however, it means upsetting inability.
“The whole experience is just stressful,” said Medill sophomore Zoe Detweiler, from Malibu, California. “Evanston is so far from home. I want to help, but there is really nothing I can do.”
Also originally from Malibu, Medill sophomore Andrew Fenichel expressed his fear when he first heard the news of the fire.
“It was scary. Especially on that first day, not being able to be there for them was traumatic,” Fenichel said. “[I knew] what they are going through but I couldn't do anything to help.”
Medill sophomore Inesh Rathi, from Los Angeles, expressed same upsets as his favorite car place in Paramount Ranch, where he and his friends often go to hang out and take pictures of their cars with the beautiful scenery that has been featured in many popular Hollywood films, was burned down earlier this month.
“We are really upset because it has such a beautiful and peaceful scenery and it has always been my favorite place to hang out with my friends in the same car club,” Rathi said.
Fortunately, Rathi’s family lived nowhere near the danger. Detweiler’s family property, however, was hugely affected by the fire.
Detweiler’s family in Malibu was among tens of thousands of Californians who have been evacuated from their hometowns due to the widespread wildfires.
“People in my community have been evacuated many times to avoid the fire. My family even had to move to a different place to live because of the terrible smoke and air quality,” Detweiler said.
By now, most of the fire has been contained by firefighters. With Christmas vacation is right around the corner, many Northwestern students are now looking forward to going back to their hometowns in California.
“The situation is rather complicated with my mother’s house. I felt very sorry that I couldn’t be there with them when all of this happened. But I am looking forward to going back home during winter break,” Fenichel said.