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PLNU Student Feels Heat of Fires in Northern California

Ten people have died as a result of several fires that have spanned over 73,000 acres primarily in Napa and Sonoma Counties, according to the LA Times. The fires have reached close to the home of PLNU sophomore Jessica Fernandez, a resident of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County who is currently studying abroad in London.

“I’m mostly anxious that I won’t have a home to go back to when I get back to the states next month. I’ve always held so much pride because of where I’m from, because it really is a beautiful corner of the world. It’s so strange to see that beauty deteriorated,” Fernandez said via text message.

Fernandez’s home is still standing and not in an evacuation zone yet, though her father is packed in case they have to leave the family home of 17 years.

“As of right now, with these conditions, we can’t get in front of this fire and do anything about the forward progress,” Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann told CNN. The fire is at zero percent containment as of Monday night. While the cause of the fires has not been released, the dry conditions have allowed for the fire to spread at a rapid pace.

“I have a wonderful mental image of Sonoma county and my memories there. I don’t want those images to burn with the rest of my town. It’s harder to grasp that it’s happening with no current solution,” Fernandez said. Several of the landmarks from her home and places of personal significance, like the first theatre she stage managed for, have been lost to the fire.

Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in seven counties according to a letter he wrote to President Donald Trump asking for federal aid. Air quality throughout the state has decreased as a result of the fire, with plumes of smoke visible over Disneyland and air quality warnings issued for parts of LA county, according to ABC News.

“I guess that it doesn’t seem that severe. Fires in drought areas happen a lot. But for someone whose best friend’s family is now homeless, whose favorite childhood spots no longer exist, it’s the most heartbroken I’ve ever felt about anything,” Fernandez said.

As of now, thousands of people are homeless, schools are closed, and many residents are without power.

“I urge students at Loma to pray for the families affected. People have lost their schools, their jobs, their homes and their livelihoods. Pray for rain! Pray that the firefighters can contain the fire. I have a feeling that even though this is heart wrenching, God’s going to make something beautiful come out of it,” Fernandez said.

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Marlee Drake

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