IN-DEPTH: 2017 Lilac Fires
December 9, 2017
In Dec. 2017, the Lilac fire broke out in Oceanside, Fallbrook and the surrounding issues. The Lancer Link editorial board got together to create a package covering the fires.
California wildfires spread to San Diego County
On Dec. 7, a wildfire, known as the “Lilac” fire, broke out off Interstate 15 in the Bonsall region. As of the published date, 4,100 acres have been charred and there is 0 percent containment. Evacuations have been ordered in all homes within the Bonsall area bound by West Lilac Road, Interstate 15, Gopher Canyon Road and East Vista Way, along with residencies within the Oceanside area bordered by Burma Road, Wilshire Road, North River Road and South Mission Avenue.
CUSD superintendent, Dr. Ben Churchill, released an statement announcing the districts closure on Friday. School is expected to be back in session by Monday.
“Student and staff safety is our top priority,” the statement reads. “Because of the potential loss of critical support infrastructure, including power and communications networks, as well as poor air quality, we’ve decided the most prudent course of action is to close schools and the district office.”
The following school districts and colleges have also announced temporary closure due to the fire:
Bonsall Unified School District, Fallbrook Union District, Guajome Park Academy, Julian Union District, Momentum Learning juvenile court and community schools, Mountain Empire Unified School District, Oceanside Unified School District, San Marcos Unified School District, Spencer Valley School District, Vista Unified School District and Warner Unified School District.
Although the fires are mostly located in the Bonsall area currently, CHS students are already being affected by the Lilac fire.
“What usually is a 30 minute drive from the school back to my house turned into a 4 hour drive today,” junior Olivia Sklenka said. “On the way home, I went though road closures, fires on train tracks near the Amtrack on El Camino Real, and so much more.”
All school activities scheduled for Friday are cancelled, including the Lancer Dancer showcase and the home basketball game. Efforts will be made into rescheduling these events for later dates.
Volunteers give animals a temporary home
As the Lilac Fire burns near Bonsall, many homes are being evacuated causing families and animals to be left with nowhere to go. Last night, the Del Mar Fairgrounds opened up their facility to larger pets and livestock that had been evacuated or found in the areas where the fire was burning. Volunteers from throughout San Diego County came to help out with the animals and donate supplies.
Multiple students lent a helping hand at the fairgrounds to ensure they were doing all they could to support those in need. Senior Sydney Madison arrived around 11 p.m. at the Del Mar Fairgrounds to help with the many animals being held.
“They were bringing horses in from all over,” Madison said. “Most of the horses were super freaked out so it made it a bit difficult. The people with horse experience helped owners unload their horses out of the trailers and put them in the stables. We made sure they all had food and water, and we were keeping track of which horses were in which stalls.”
While some animals were brought to the shelter by their owners, some were brought by individuals who found the animals alone in evacuated areas. One of the main objectives for the volunteers was identifying the animals and their owners.
People came with horses, pigs, ponies and goats they just found on the side of the road.”
— Sydney Madison
“People came with horses, pigs, ponies and goats they just found on the side of the road,” Madison said. “We were trying to identify them so their owners knew they were safe.”
For Madison and her family, volunteering was the obvious choice because it allowed them to utilize their expertise in the area of horses.
“I am a huge animal lover and my family used to have a horse, so I really felt for those who were trying to save their horses,” Madison said. “My mom and I have a lot of horse experience and can handle them well, so we knew that we would be able to help out.”
With many families and animals being left without a place to stay or plan of what to do next, Madison encourages others to join her in volunteering with animals or helping out in other ways.
These animals are scared and need us to help them.”
— Sydney Madison
“Other people should definitely help out because these animals are scared and need us to help them,” Madison said. “Those of us in Carlsbad are lucky enough to not be directly affected by the fires, so we can take time to help those who are. If you are 18 or with someone over 18, you can go to the Del Mar Fairgrounds and help with the horses. If that’s not your thing, you can always donate food or other supplies to the local evacuation centers for the families displaced by the fires.”
For more information on ways to help out in Del Mar call 858-755-1161. If you are interested in helping in other ways, visit Hands On San Diego here, the San Diego Humane Society here or Red Cross here.
Students respond to the December fires
As students’ lives from all over Southern California are turned upside down, they share their thoughts on the new events of the fire.
Turn on the news. What is the first thing you notice? Headlines for the Lilac fire, everywhere. It is spreading quickly, moving towards South Oceanside and forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes. Many districts close their schools as they await further notice, with students’ safety as first priority. More than 10 school districts have closed for Friday, Dec. 8, and students from all over Southern California share their thoughts on the sudden events of the fire.
“Well, I feel worried because I want to make sure everyone is okay, but in times like these you really see a community come together,” junior Hannah Haughton from Carlsbad High School said. “People all over social media are checking in making sure everyone’s okay and it’s heartwarming to see this. I think the school is having a good call in cancelling school because with all the scariness, school is the last thing on people’s minds.”
As of right now, the fire has burned 4100 acres, still with 0% containment. More than 23,000 people have evacuated their homes, leaving belongings behind, with no promise of returning.
“It made me really nervous and scared, just the thought of seeing everything I own disappear blew my mind,” junior Madisyn Brillo from El Camino High School said. “I’ve always seen things like this happen on TV, but I never thought I would ever be a part of it. It also broke my heart that if we did have to evacuate, I couldn’t bring everything.”
“It made me really nervous and scared, just the thought of seeing everything I own disappear blew my mind. I’ve always seen things like this happen on TV, but I never thought I would ever be a part of it. It also broke my heart that if we did have to evacuate, I couldn’t bring everything.”” — Madisyn Brillo
“It made me really nervous and scared, just the thought of seeing everything I own disappear blew my mind. I’ve always seen things like this happen on TV, but I never thought I would ever be a part of it. It also broke my heart that if we did have to evacuate, I couldn’t bring everything.””
— Madisyn Brillo
Some individuals have chosen to take precautions, prior to possibly being evacuated. As the fire eases its way towards Carlsbad, students begin to pack their most valuable items.
“Things are a little bit hectic,” sophomore Nicole Burke from CHS said. “I wasn’t too worried for a while, but after watching the news and looking at social media, once the fire had gone over 4100 acres, I started worrying. I was so worried I was going to have to evacuate during the night that I packed a bag full of all my favorite and sentimental things. Then I took a video of my house because my dad told me if it burns down and we have a video, the insurance [company] will reimburse us for our nice things we’ve lost. After waking up this morning, I feel good. I haven’t heard anymore news about the fire so hopefully it is being contained.”
Cathedral Catholic High School still has its doors open today, but despite this, junior Tess Dufour continues to think about those suffering because of the fire.
“I am praying for all the people that are affected, but I’m not super nervous, because I know most people will be safe because of evacuation procedures,” Dufour said. “I’m mostly scared for the animals though.”
While some nervously await evacuation, other Southern California students such as freshman Sierra Anderson from Classical Academy remain calm about the Lilac Fire.
“I’m kind of calm surprisingly about the fires, but I’m evacuating soon when it’s mandatory,” Anderson said. “I’m sad to leave my house, but I have hope it will still be standing in the morning.”
While firefighters try to contain the fire, students keep updated with the news and wait for further details on evacuations. Click here for live updates on the fires.
“I feel nervous because my school and many friends’ houses are in danger,” junior Alaina Stimson from Mission Vista High School said. “Also, my school is on the news as a helicopter landing area and the houses around my school, where many of my friends live, have been put under mandatory evacuation.”
What an evacuation really feels like
Sensitivity must be applied to those who are affected by the people
On Dec. 7, at 5:37 p.m., the City of Oceanside released its first of many consecutive evacuation maps due to the Lilac fire. It wasn’t until four posts later, that I realized my area along College Boulevard was under mandatory evacuation. Earlier that evening, I had seen a post on snapchat of someone hoping that our speech and debate Winter Classic tournament would not be cancelled or else they’d, “kill themselves.” This brought to my attention how insensitive and unworried many were, simply because the fire hadn’t impacted them yet. I have seen multiple complaints of not wanting to share homes with families who had to evacuate, which had seemed to desensitize the entire issue at hand. It is easy to say that nothing will happen when you have not faced the effects first-hand. This is meant to raise awareness that it is absolutely necessary to have sensitivity and to wish the people facing the fires safety instead of painting this natural disaster as a minor disturbance.
After seeing the notification on my phone, I gathered the essentials. Clothes, electronics and food were tucked messily into my suitcase and thrown into the car. Pacing back and forth between my room and my mother’s room, I caught glimpses of my grandmother between the wall and her cracked door frame. She was sitting eyes pressed shut while holding the rosary repeating the hail Mary in Spanish in what seemed like a never-ending cycle of worry.
Hearing her pray to god in a plea to keep our house safe, made everything seem surreal as I was brought to the realization that this isn’t just something that you hear about on the news from the comfort of your own home.
If someone needs a place to stay because their home is at risk, welcome them with open arms, and please, have some sensitivity.”
If someone needs a place to stay because their home is at risk, welcome them with open arms, and please, have some sensitivity.”
As my mother and I drove to leave our cars at my dad’s house, the thick scent of smoke still coveted the inside of the car, regardless of our windows being completely closed.
Events like this put a lot into perspective, especially on leaving things behind. Natural disasters like the Lilac Fire can impact anyone, and there is no real way to prepare for the reality of how frightening it is.
My family slept with one eye open that night as we waited for the police or some higher level of authority to come knocking on our door. No one knocked on the night of the fire, and all valuables went unharmed. We were incredibly lucky to not have been deeply impacted by the fires, but it does not make our experiences any less real nor the experiences of other families that had to evacuate.
The fires are nothing to take lightly, and they are nothing to underestimate or joke about. Lives and homes are not something to make a satire out of, and they definitely should not be the reason of complaints. If someone needs a place to stay because their home is at risk, welcome them with open arms, and please, have some sensitivity.
CAC cancels performance for the first time in CHS history
The Carlsbad Community Cultural Arts Center was built in 1983 and has since been the home of many performers from Carlsbad High School. The CAC has been the location where every theatre performance has been held including community theatre programs and all artistic programs at CHS.
Due to recent fire outbreaks, the Lancer Dancer Winter Showcase has been cancelled, the first ever performance that had to be cancelled in the CAC. While some students would be left unbothered, the dance teams that have been rehearsing since the end of September were saddened by the news.
The Lancer Dancers are the Varsity dance team of CHS. They are the 2016 World Champions as well as having won multiple national titles. The dance teams at Carlsbad High School put on different showcases throughout the school year. Not only do the showcases demonstrate the skills the team possesses, but they are the biggest fundraisers the teams hold. Many members of both the varsity and junior varsity teams were left upset at the news of cancelling their first performance due to all the long rehearsals put in to perfect their pieces.
“We have been preparing for this showcase for months, freshman Lauren Montano said. “I was crushed when they cancelled the first show. We have been working so hard. When the show got cancelled, it felt like all the work we put into this was just wasted.”
Not only were LD and Xcalibur supposed to perform, but there was going to be appearances by Carlsbad’s dance program, Junior Lancer Dancers, and the male LD counterparts, the Mancers. The teams have all been rehearsing for quite some time and many were very excited to perform their routines. The showcase is one of the ways the teams fundraise for future events such as UDA nationals, one of the biggest competitions the varsity and junior varsity dance teams participate in.
“This is actually the biggest fundraiser LD has this year and since we had to cancel two shows already it means so much to both teams that people come to our Saturday shows,” junior Alexandra Santana said. “Not just because it helps us get to nationals, but because we’ve all put in so much work into the showcase.”
While the first performance was cancelled, the team has announced that the performances for Saturday Dec. 8 at 2p.m. and 7p.m. will still be held. The team has also rescheduled their cancelled performance for Thursday Dec. 14 and for Wednesday Dec. 20. The dance programs will be performing routines of different genres and the money will be helping the teams go to nationals.
“It’s a great show and we have put in so much work, Montano said. “We want our families and friends to see all the routines we have [worked so hard on].”