A Month After Fire, Support for Westmont Continues

Post a Comment » Written on December 12th, 2008     
Filed under: News
SANTA BARBARA, CA (December 12, 2008) – Chris Call, vice president of Westmont College, says that he and the rest of the school community are grateful for the support they continue to receive a month after the wildfire that burned roughly 30 percent of the campus.

“I don’t think anyone here is feeling like they’re going it alone,” says Call, who also serves as chair of the Montecito Covenant Church. “I have just felt upheld by prayer both physically and spiritually. I’ve seen this in others as well.”

On November 13, what has been dubbed the Tea Fire swept through the Westmont campus, destroying eight buildings and 15 faculty homes. A total of 62 students, several staff members and a retired professor lost their residences as well, according to the school’s website.

“Anyone who has been on the campus has been amazed that more damage wasn’t done,” Call says.

Call helped formulate the disaster response plan at the school that helped keep 600 students safe when the fire struck. Students spent the night in the college’s cinder-block gymnasium.

Classes were cancelled for several weeks while the college worked to make resumption of classes possible. “A lot of people have been putting in a lot of extraordinary hours,” Call says. “I’m just filled with gratitude for my colleagues and staff. I’ve seen so many people going above and beyond.”

The school brought in mobile buildings for residences and offices so that classes could resume. On December 1, Westmont reopened with a special chapel service of renewal and hope.

Call says that students generally are doing well emotionally in response to the fire. After the blaze, more than 100 students volunteered to help others in the surrounding community.

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