California wildfire forces evacuation at Thomas Aquinas College

Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paul. Credit: Henrik Lehnerer / Shutterstock.
Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paul. Credit: Henrik Lehnerer / Shutterstock.

.- The fast-spreading flames of a California wildfire reached the borders of the campus of Thomas Aquinas College early this week, but they did not cause serious damage, and all students are safe.

“As a precaution, all students were evacuated, first to Sacred Heart Church in Ventura, then to homes of various friends, faculty, and alumni,” the college said on its website Dec. 5.

“Although flames at one point reached the campus perimeter, there has been no serious damage to any structures. Please continue to pray for all those affected and for all first responders.”

The college has canceled its Tuesday classes. The 400 students enrolled at the Santa Paula, Calif. institution are among the thousands of people forced to evacuate.

The fire, known as the Thomas Fire, began Monday evening in Steckel Park, less than three miles from campus. It quickly burned about 45,000 acres in 13 hours and spread to several homes in the northern area of the city of Ventura, home to more than 100,000 people, CNN reports.

The fire caused an eerie orange glow in the hills.

About 150 buildings have been destroyed in the fire. Felled power lines at one point cut power from 260,000 homes, but power has been largely restored.

Strong winds, blowing 40-60 mph, have helped fan the flames. Known as the Santa Ana winds, they are strong, dry, and blow from east to west. The current winds are the strongest of the season.

Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said that the prospects for containment are “not good” and the success of firefighting efforts will be dependent on the weather, the Washington Post reports.

Tags: Catholic News, Natural disasters, Thomas Aquinas College, Wildfire

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