November 15, 2008 News

Southern California Wildfires

As most of you have heard, particularly if you have followed today's news, Southern California is ablaze. Following is what we currently know about Presbyterian and Reformed congregations in the Santa Barbara/Los Angeles/Orange County areas.

At this hour the fires are reportedly out in Santa Barbara; however, in Sylmar/Orange and Riverside Counties that is not the case. In fact, it was reported a short time ago that Nixon Presidential Library is in jeopardy. Unless the severe winds die down, reportedly Fullerton and Anaheim, California are in the path of the fires (in Orange and Riverside Counties, Yorba Linda, Brea, Anaheim Hills and Corona are reporting fires). In Sylmar, Olive View Hospital reportedly did not burn, but all the buildings around the hospital burned. During the evacuation of patients many were kept alive by artificial means. Additionally, all of the freeways in the area north of Los Angeles remain closed. We have also been informed that because of the fire disaster in the Sylmar area, residents of Los Angeles/Orange County may experience rolling blackouts.

What we do know is that in Sylmar over 500 structures have burned. Many of those were in a mobile home park where, reportedly, many retired people lived. Because many of the pastors in PCA congregations in the Valley and Canyon County of North Los Angeles County have not responded, we do not have an accurate count of all of people in that area who have been affected.

PCA—At this point we do know that some families in the Santa Barbara church (Christ Presbyterian Church) and Yorba Linda area (Grace Presbyterian Church) have lost their homes.

Christ Presbyterian Church (Santa Barbara)—Three families have been affected by the fire (one, where the husband is faculty member at Westmont). Former OPC members Dick and Elaine (née Robert Nicholas) Jacobsen are housing these individuals. They have lost everything.

Grace Presbyterian Church (Yorba Linda)—The house of the next door neighbors of one of the members caught on fire and burned due to the fire in Corona. They have been evacuated and their house is in danger of burning also. In addition, the mother and stepfather of one of their members is also in danger from the Corona fire. They have been evacuated. Because of highway closures, it is uncertain if they will be able to hold worship services tomorrow. They are also asking for help in housing fire victims.

OPC—There are families who well maybe in the direct path of the fires burning in the Brea/Placentia and Yorba Linda fire. One has responded that presently they are safe.

El Camino OPC—We are still awaiting word on the the status of the home of ruling elder A.M. (Mac) Laurie. Also, please pray for a young woman who is a student at Westmont College. She is the daughter of a Reformed Baptist pastor in France. She was in the cafeteria when the fire broke out and lost everything but her purse.


Christ Reformed Church (Anaheim)—They have two families in the Brea area and three in the Anaheim Hills/Yorba Linda area. At this point they are reporting that everyone is safe.

Please continue to pray ...

  • that the high winds will die down
  • for the fire fighters who are on the fire lines
  • for those who have lost all of their earthly belongings
  • that God will be pleased to spare human life
  • for the Christian community's good testimony during this time of tragedy
  • for the families who are opening their homes to those who have been displaced
  • for those who will help in the cleanup, that they will be protected from injury

God bless,
John K. Novinger, chairman
Diaconal Committee, Presbytery of Southern California


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