Students from Los Angeles, Ventura and Butte Counties who returned home for Thanksgiving break faced devastation from fires that raged for several weeks, but the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura and the Camp Fire in Butte County are officially 100 percent contained.

The Camp Fire began Nov. 8 in Paradise near Chico and spread to a total of 153,336 acres, according to Cal Fire. It decimated 12,972 resident homes, 528 commercial structures and an additional 4,293 buildings. Eighty five people were killed, making this fire the largest and deadliest in California’s history, which was previously the Mendicino-Complex Fire that occurred earlier this year.

The fire reached full containment Sunday, Nov. 25. However, as of Nov. 24, Butte County has reported more than 450 people are still unaccounted for, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The Woolsey Fire also began Nov. 8 and was exterminated on Thanksgiving Day, Nov, 21. The fire burned 96,949 acres and 15,000 structures, and an additional 341 structures were damaged according to Cal Fire. Three people were killed as a result of the fire.

Gindling Hilltop Camp and Camp Hess Kramer, two Jewish summer camps located in Malibu, were destroyed by the Woolsey fire Nov. 11.

Video by Kayla Berenson

Eighty-seven of the structures destroyed belonged to the Wilshire Boulevard Temple camps, leaving only 10 of the total 97 structures standing.

The two sister camps were founded in 1952. The burning of the two camps had a large effect on the Jewish community in California, including multiple students at Cal Poly. Communication studies sophomore Evie Schwartz had some of her fondest memories while camping at Gindling Hilltop Camp.

“I grew [up] in an area where I was one of the only Jewish kids, and sometimes it made me feel like I didn’t want to be Jewish,” mathematics freshman Sidra Knox said. “Hilltop gave me a strong sense of community and made me proud to be Jewish.”

Schwartz and Knox said it was hard being away from fellow campers while they were all experiencing this tragedy.

According to the 2015 and 2016 Cal Poly Fact Books, roughly 20 percent of each grade’s student population is from the Los Angeles Area. Less than 5 percent of students are from Butte County.

The two deadly fires not only had an impact on those living in the area. Surrounding counties were affected by smoke and poor air quality as well.

To help students affected by fires, Cal Poly Cares raised $19,215 and is continuing to accept donations. Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) also held a donation drive until Nov. 15.

Editor’s note: In print the quote was misattributed to Evie Schwartz. It has been updated online to accurately attribute the quote to Sidra Knox. 

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