Wildfires cause mandatory evacuations the day after mass shooting at local college bar

Photo taken of the Woosley Fire by Pepperdine student, Noah Collins.

Pepperdine students had less than ten minutes to evacuate under smoke-filled skies the day after hearing of tragic mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill where students scrambled to locate their friends and family.

Last week, California college students woke up Thursday morning to the tragic news of the Borderline Bar and Grill mass shooting in Thousand Oaks. In the midst of grieving and reaching out to their loved ones, students in the Southern California area woke up the following day to mandatory evacuation orders as Woolsey and Hill fires threatened lives and homes in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

A Marine veteran opened fire in Borderline Bar and Grill during college night late last Wednesday.  Police identified the gunman to be 28-year-old Ian Long who was reported dead at the scene when officers entered the bar. He is believed to have killed himself. 17 students of Pepperdine University were at the local bar when the shooting occurred. Tragically, one of the 12 victims that died was 18-year old Pepperdine freshman Alaina Housley.

“Imagine waking up Thursday morning and hearing about a mass shooting at a local bar, wondering if any of your friends were killed and knowing that one of the victims was a fellow Pepperdine student,” sophomore student Sara Kathryns said. “The following day I woke up to a mandatory evacuation order.”

The day after the tragic shooting, Kathryns had less than ten minutes to pack her belongings and promptly evacuate the campus under the dark smoke-filled sky. As the flames of the Woolsey fire raced toward her home and school campus, she and hundreds of other students struggled to find safety.

The Woolsey fire has burned over 98,362 acres of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties destroying at least 504 structures and threatening 57,000 more. There has been three deaths so far and firefighters are still working to gain containment of the flames.

Students of Pepperdine University scrambled to pack their most irreplaceable belongings in less than ten minutes and hit the road in search of shelter from the smoke and flames. With ash falling from the sky and the roads filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic, sophomore Chloe Gaynor underestimated the severity of the event at first.

“Everyone I know thought we would be able to return to campus after a few hours,” Gaynor said. “But it ended up being a nightmare. It seemed like an apocalypse. The sky was filled with dark smoke. No gas stations were working, no cell reception, nothing.”

Despite the damages the fires have caused, individuals in the area have stepped-up to help others in need. Malibu resident Daisy Armstrong faced the flames to check on the houses in her neighborhood and gathered supplies to give to local firefighters.

“Everyone in Southern California is trying to do their part by helping each other through this tough time,” Pepperdine baseball athlete Dane Marrows said. “A lot of my friends have lost their houses to the fires and as soon as the roads clear up, I’m going back into Malibu to help out.”

Devastating events are one thing to see on the news but when these events hit close to home, it puts everything into a different perspective.

“When something like this happens to you, it turns your whole world upside down,” Kathryns said. “It forces you to have a new-found meaning of life. To simply be alive and healthy now seems like I have everything in the world. Events like these cause you to revalue relationships with family and friends.”