The wildfires razing northeast Los Angeles — faintly visible from campus rooftops and balconies — continue to spread, forcing mandatory evacuations and threatening the homes and families of some USC students.
Firefighters battling three-digit temperatures, 80-foot flames and more than 35,000 acres of fire had only contained 5 percent of the blaze by 4 p.m. Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
As of Sunday evening, LAFD officials had recommended evacuation in the cities of Altadena, Acton, La Crescenta, La Cañada Flintridge and parts of Glendale, and access to Highway 14 has been restricted in multiple parts of the area, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
The Station fire, which has been burning since Aug. 26, is not expected to be under control until Sept. 8 at the earliest, according to LAFD estimates.
Although the fire has stayed 20 miles northeast of campus, USC students with homes and families in the evacuation areas are concerned about the potential effects of the fires.
Nicolas Moura, a junior majoring in trombone performance, said his family has loaded cars in case of evacuation. From his home in the mountains of La Cañada, Moura said the sound of the firefighters battling the blaze was “like a warzone.”
“From my house we have a pretty good view of the fires,” Moura said. “I’ve never experienced fires this bad.”
Moura first heard about the fire when he was going home to celebrate his parents’ 30th wedding anniversary.
“We were watching it at the dinner table — ‘La Cañada is on fire,’” Moura said. “It was difficult to get food for the dinner.”
Sean Perry, a junior majoring in economics, grew up in Altadena, where a mandatory evacuation has been imposed.
“My home is about five miles from the fire’s present location, so I’m not particularly worried about my own house,” Perry said. “But of course I’m worried for the community.”
Perry, a member of the USC cycling team, said although he lives near campus, the smoky air from the fires has still affected his training.
“I haven’t been able to ride in a week because it’ll destroy your lungs,” Perry said.
The LAFD has launched an ongoing investigation to determine the cause of the fire.
Additional support, including eight air tankers, 12 helicopters and a Canadian Super Scooper — a massive water tanker — should arrive by Tuesday, LAFD said.