InterVarsity’s Campus by the Sea (CBS) is “singed around the edges,” but intact, camp director Susie Veon reported by cell phone at mid morning. There’s no damage at the camp from the fire that has burned over 4,000 acres on Santa Catalina island. The camp buildings are wet because they were hosed down, and the camp is covered with ash. Surrounding hillsides were still smoldering but the wind seemed to be pushing the fire back, away from the camp. It appeared as though the worst was over, since burned out areas now offered a fire break between the areas still burning and the camp location.
Five volunteers remained at the camp, checking on spot fires around the canyons through the morning. Since restoring power to homes, businesses and public facilities is the first priority, power at the camp is not expected to return until the middle of next week, at the earliest.
The camp is not available for groups that were scheduled this weekend and next week but InterVarsity’s Associate Regional Director Tom Allen reports those groups have located alternate facilities.
Most of the staff was evacuated from the camp to the city of Avalon, three miles away, at around three o’clock Thursday afternoon. They had about 30 minutes notice, just enough time to hose down the camp before they lost power and phone communication. Evacuated at the same time were 130 middle school students, mostly from Scottsdale, Arizona, who were attending the annual Long Beach Marine Institute at CBS.
Luke Ditewig, a member of the camp staff team, was one of those evacuated. “The last we heard before leaving the island (near 10pm), fire had descended half way into our canyon and was moving slowly,” he reported. “It had moved further into Toyon, the canyon/camp next to us. It was quite surreal leaving on the boat and seeing the island in flames, especially with the largest flames seeming to be near our camp.”
Hundreds of other Santa Catalina island residents, tourists and campers were also evacuated, as wildfires swept through dry brush. Most of the firefighting resources focused on Avalon, since that is the population center of the island.
News reports say that only one home on the outskirts of Avalon was lost to the flames. Additional details on the fire, and photos, can be found at the LATimes, CNN, and CBS2 websites.
CBS prepares to resume ministry
photo top: 7pm, Thursday May 10, 2007. photo bottom: 7am Friday, May 11, 2007