California fires threaten students’ families

California fires threaten students families

The heat from the Western wildfires can be felt more than 1,000 miles away as families and friends of TCU students leave all memories behind to escape the blazes.

State emergency officials reported Wednesday that more than 9,000 firefighters are working in seven California counties to put out fires that have burned more than 420,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,500 homes.

In Lake Arrowhead, Calif., sophomore political science major Kirk Kindy’s brother is one of those firefighters.

“When I found out he was going down to Lake Arrowhead, I was worried at first,” Kindy said, “but that’s his job, and he should be fine. I have faith in him.”

Kindy said he has been able to communicate with his brother only through text messages.

Kindy is not the only one with loved ones in Arrowhead.

There are 195 students enrolled this semester from California, according to the 2007 TCU Fact Book.

Sophomore psychology major Caroline Claure’s grandparents live less than two miles from the flames.

Claure said she turned on the TV Monday and saw her local golf course on fire and panicked.

“I called my grandparents, and they didn’t answer, but luckily, they were on vacation,” Claure said. “It still worries me because my parents cannot get to the house, because the freeway to get to their house is on fire.”

For Claure, the most difficult part is being far from home.

“There is nothing I can do here in Texas,” she said. “That was the house I grew up in, and it’s sad to see all the memories burn down.”

Freshman nursing major Melissa Gase, from Santee, Calif., said the worst part is just waiting to see what happens next.

“I called my mom to see if everything was alright, but then she told me my boyfriend’s house in Rancho Bernardo wasn’t looking too good,” Gase said.

Gase said she called her boyfriend’s house multiple times but no one answered.

“I started crying because I had no idea what was going on,” she said. “Fortunately I got a hold of his sister and confirmed that everyone was safe.”

Gase said a fire occurred four years ago but did not seem as bad because she was able to be there with her family.

The Sacramento Bee contributted to this report..