All Thursday and Friday classes at UC Santa Barbara have been canceled in response to the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, according to an email sent out to students by Chancellor Henry T. Yang.
The fire began on Monday night and caused a power outage in Isla Vista and on campus between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District said Thursday evening that Santa Barbara’s air quality status improved to “very unhealthy” and Goleta’s to “unhealthy.”
UCSB has provided several resources for students in response to the power outages and the fire.
Where Can I Get a Mask?
- N95 masks are being offered at Student Health, Associated Students (A.S.) Ticket Office, in residences halls, the Recreation Center and A.S. offices.
- San Nicolas has approximately five boxes of disposable pollutant masks available. The masks are not suitable for wildfire smoke and are designed to protect against pollen.
- Santa Cruz and San Miguel each have 150 masks available but are only giving them to residents of their respective halls, according to the desk attendants. Students with respiratory health issues can come to the desk and request one.
- Anacapa currently has 300 masks available, according to the hall’s desk attendant.
- Santa Catalina has approximately 200 masks for both towers that are available upon request.
- San Joaquin and Sierra Madre villages and West Campus Apartments have “a few for people who are having respiratory issues,” said Amy Boyle, an administrative service coordinator for UCSB Housing, Dining and Auxiliary Enterprises.
- Costco and Direct Relief will be distributing N95 masks beginning 10 a.m. on Friday at the Camino Real Marketplace and at the Franklin Community Center in Santa Barbara. No more than two masks will be given out per person and the masks are not designed for children.
UCSB Student Health said 1,000 N95 masks were brought in just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, and it is scheduled to receive 9,000 masks Friday evening.
N95 masks filter 95 percent of particulates in the air but are not designed for children or individuals with facial hair. These masks “offer some limited protection from fine particles in smoke,” according a press release sent out by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. Ordinary dust masks and surgical masks will not protect individuals from smoke particles.
Masks are limited to one per resident at every residence hall.
UCSB Housing said all residence halls will have additional safety masks by tomorrow at 12 p.m. Manzanita Village and San Rafael were the only residence halls without safety masks on Thursday afternoon.
At the request of Ventura County, UCSB opened an evacuation center in the Multi-Activity Center (MAC) Tuesday night. The center is located at 552 University Road and can accommodate up to 480 people, according to UCSB Red Cross Shelter Manager Erick McCurdy. McCurdy said the university can arrange for other accommodations if the MAC fills up and said the Red Cross has prepared for evacuees to stay for seven to 14 days. An animal shelter is available for small animals in crates.
Students in Affected Areas
UCSB’s Financial Response Crisis Team sent out an email Wednesday night to 1,340 students who live in zip codes that have been affected by the fires in Los Angeles and Ventura County. This will be a “rolling project” according to Michael Miller, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment services. Students should email firstname.lastname@example.org if they are experiencing a financial crisis as a result of the fires.
- Students who have “breathing issues or have medical conditions that affect breathing” should visit student health, Chancellor Yang said in an email sent out to students Wednesday night. He confirmed in an email sent out Thursday that the campus will remain open but that all remaining classes for Thursday and Friday are canceled.
- Student Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.) will remain open for students who have urgent needs, Yang said.
The Division of Student Affairs opened a hotline for parents who want to know more about what the university is doing in response to the Thomas Fire. The hotline can be reached at (805) 893-3901 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
How to Help
Students interested in volunteering at UCSB’s evacuee shelter can go to the Multi Activity Center and register as a civilian volunteer, or become a Red Cross volunteer through the Red Cross website, said Red Cross Night Manager Steve Newman.
Students can also email Amanda Grace with UCSB Emergency Services at email@example.com for more information about volunteering.
Updated information about the Thomas fire is available at readyventuracounty.org and information about air quality is available at ourair.org/todays-air-quality/.
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