By COLlive reporter
The wildfires raging across Southern California have scorched more than 10,000 acres, with crews struggling to protect hundreds of homes from advancing flames.
By Wednesday night, the blaze in San Marcos, a city in S. Diego county, had charred about 500 acres and forced authorities to evacuate residential neighborhoods and the Palomar College and the Cal State San Marcos campuses.
Cal State San Marcos, which has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students, was in the middle of administering spring finals when the evacuation order was issued Wednesday afternoon. The blaze burned on the hillside behind the campus, school police said.
Rabbi Yair and Chanie Yelin, Shluchim in San Marcos, have been assisting stranded students and local residents who had to evacuate within minutes of the fires spreading to their neighborhood.
Rabbi Yelin was just leaving an office building Wednesday afternoon when the building was evacuated.
“The cars were backed up all along the street as I tried to leave, nothing was moving,” he told COLlive. “When I looked out the back window I could see the fire coming closer and closer down the hill. Thank G-d we got out, just as we got off that road, it completely filled with smoke.”
The Yelins have been working trying to contact students who are from out of town and don’t have family or friends nearby who can take them in. They are offering shelter at their home and Chabad House, which for now have not been evacuated, although “we have our things ready in case we need to leave,” Yair said.
Yelin also visited the local shelter, to hand out food and water to evacuees and provide moral support to the victims.
“Everyone is under a lot of stress, because they had to run from their homes within minutes. Now they don’t know what has happened, if their homes have burned down or are safe. And they can’t go back to check because of smoke damage and dangerous conditions. It’s a very tense situation,” Yelin said.
While the Yellin family has not been evacuated, their four children, the eldest 7 years old, have been involved in the relief efforts, working together with their parents to prepare food and water and visiting evacuees.
“When we drove home and saw the fires all around us, we told the children, this is why we are here, this is our Shlichus now, to help all those in need,” Yelin said.
To donate to the Chabad of San Marcos efforts, click here.