Blue Ridge Fire Threatens the Chino Hills Community
By Olivia Mendoza (10)
On October 26th at 2:32pm, two small fires merged in Yorba Linda, which caused violent flames to spread over Orange County, as well as our hometown: Chino Hills. Little did we know, the student body of Ruben S. Ayala High School would be greatly impacted.
The Blue Ridge Fire burned 13,964 acres, destroyed one home and damaged ten others. Without end in sight, six fire crews worked tirelessly for twelve days, finally extinguishing the flames on November 7th.
Throughout the laborious days, firefighters were forced to accommodate to the sudden gusts of winds. With speeds between 30 and 50 miles per hour, the blaze spread faster, endangering not only homes, but the lives of first responders.
Three hundred thirty five personnel members worked to contain the flames that moved North of the 91 freeway. To ensure the safety of families, many were advised to evacuate until further notice.
Students from all different parts of the city were forced to leave the comfort of their homes and head towards evacuation centers or other places of safety amidst a global pandemic.
Evacuations were set in place for those living in the Carbon Canyon, as explained by Gabi Riggin (12). “My family and I were not able to leave our house because we live in the Canyon. If we did, we wouldn’t have been able to come back to our home.”
Students and their families, regardless of where they lived, were all on pins and needles. At any given moment, these families could have been told that they needed to evacuate. Checking phones and anxiously waiting to see when the evacuation line would reach their home was all a normality during these troubling times.
Serna Liu (10) wasn’t so lucky. She lives “right next to the Chino Hills State Park which was really close to the fire.” From the vantage point in her room, she “saw the hill on fire.”
An evacuation was necessary for Liu. She said, “We evacuated and stayed with my cousins. When we came back the whole place smelled like smoke, and ashes were everywhere. When I took a walk in my neighborhood I can now see that a lot of things were black. The shrubs were burnt away.”