The Lariat staff faces the fires

The Silverado Fire blazing near Irvine. Sangeetha Koomar/Lariat

How the Lariat staff are being affected by the new fires in southern California 

The dry Santa Ana winds have not been kind to the landscape of southern California. As the weather takes a dramatic turn, the humidity has dropped to 7-8% and many are feeling the effects of increased fires. 

The Silverado Fire was reported this morning by Lariat staff and has yet to be contained. Another fire sparked in Chino Hills. As of around 4 p.m. today Yorba Linda was added to the mandatory evacuations list in Orange County in addition to other cities such as Irvine and Lake Forest. 

In Santa Ana, the winds were upwards of 75 miles an hour, causing some momentary power outages. On First Street, I saw a branch hit the power lines outside of my boyfriend’s apartment and a tree crashed into a car, taking out the front windshield. The branch cut off my Zoom meeting with the eight Lariat staffers who had power and could make the meeting.  

A tree branch falls onto power lines on First Street in Santa Ana. Catherine Norby/Lariat

Julia Simpson, the art director for the Lariat, experienced a power outage in her home in Mission Viejo earlier this morning. The power did not return until around 4 p.m. 

“My friend David even had to evacuate from his home,” Simpson said. “I hope it doesn’t come closer to Mission Viejo.” 

Sangeetha Koomar, a copy editor for the Lariat, evacuated with home earlier today in Irvine. 

“My family and I got the notification at 9 a.m., and you could see the smoke and I have severe allergies so as soon as I stepped out my eyes were red and puffy and swollen, I was coughing and it was so hard to breathe for me,” Koomar said. “What’s crazy is you read about the fires and evacuations in the news but experiencing it is crazy. It was so nerve wracking and still is, you truly don’t know what’s gonna happen.” 

Other staff members such as Cameron Osburn, the news writer for the Lariat, have also been evacuated. For now, the rest either face ongoing power outages, strong winds or both. 

Anthem Blue Cross is offering resources for those who have been affected by the fires. They have offered to provide counseling, referrals, resources and assistance in preparedness, relocation, relief organizations, local and community agencies and coping with crisis.  

Both fires have yet to be contained and evacuations are ongoing.