Updated: Oct 16, 2019
High winds and close proximity to fire lead to Valley weekend closure.
By Savannah Simmons, Opinion Editor
The Saddleridge fire in Sylmar closed the Valley College campus due to unsafe air quality caused by smoke from the blaze.
Valley sent out emails, text messages and automated phone calls this morning informing students that all Friday and Saturday classes are to be cancelled. Offices and services will remain closed as well, due to the fire in the San Fernando Valley.
“My friend’s house was on fire,” said Ani Hakobyan, a Valley student. “He took a picture and sent it to me at like, 11a.m.”
Hakobyan and her friend Kristen Yengoyan were both returning from a tour of UC San Diego and San Diego State, sponsored by Valley.
“We came here in the morning and went to San Diego,” said Yengoyan. “When we came back we got the email that the campus was closed.”
Started last night in Sylmar, the brush fire has now burned more than 7,500 acres and destroyed an estimated 25 structures. One man has died of a heart attack and one firefighter has been injured.
The combination of heavy Santa Ana winds, traveling up to 60 miles per hour, high heat and low humidity in the area created “an extremely dangerous fire” according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The city of Porter Ranch, parts of Granada Hills and Sylmar have a mandatory evacuation in effect. Approximately 23,000 homes and 100,000 people have been evacuated to neighboring cities and evacuation centers. The 5 and the 210 freeway have both been shut down until further notice.
More than 30 schools in the surrounding areas have been shut down, including Cal State Northridge, College of the Canyons, Mission College and Pierce College.
Pierce College’s Equestrian Center is playing an important role during the Saddleridge fire as a large animal evacuation center, housing at least 80 horses. Hansen Dam Horse Park and the Pomona Fairplex are also taking in large animals.
As of Friday afternoon, the fire is 13 percent contained by the 1,000 firefighters battling it head-on.
“In the morning you could really smell it,” said Security Officer Jerry Morales, “but now you can barely smell it. “
The Valley campus will remain closed until further notice due to the smoke in the area. Emails and text messages are due to be sent when the campus reopens. For updates, check the Valley website lavc.edu and @ValleyStarNews.
Solomon Smith also contributed to this article.