God’s hand is over Weimar and we have not been scorched by the fires started yesterday, Wednesday, October 8 at 1:30 PM on the east and opposite side of Interstate 80. Five to seven fires of unknown origin started along the Interstate, the most imminent danger coming from the one directly across from the entrance to campus at the West Paoli Lane overpass. At the point when the trees were engulfed in flames that could have spanned the width of the highway, the wind was blowing away from campus and the trees on the Institute side were spared. This smaller fire was extinguished by nightfall. However, one of the fires closer to the Heather Glen exit flared up with the unusually strong wind (up to 27 MPH) and continues to burn.
The campus packed evacuation bags and classes were suspended for the afternoon periods. Scores of students, faculty, and employees stood around the Inn, College, and Caf watching the impressive air show of jets, prop planes, and helicopters dropping retardant. Although placed under evacuation mode, our danger decreased as the strong winds blew away from campus, driving the fire towards the river and Applegate. One College staff family evacuated their home yesterday afternoon and is waiting to return to a home or a scorched lot. Thankfully the fire retardant lines held overnight, but current reports show the Applegate Fire to be covering 420 acres of land and threatening 1000 homes. Several homes have already been lost. Please keep these houses and families in prayer, as well as the over 1200 firefighters involved with the Applegate Fire. At present, the fire is only 20% contained, but Cal Fire is using their largest planes to box in the fire the best possible.
Towards dusk, the Weimar Academy parking lot was occupied by one of the helicopters. The cafeteria prepared supper for evacuees and fire department personal. We anticipate extended ministry over the next days and weeks for the displaced people and destroyed property from the Applegate Fire.
By 11:00 this morning, Weimar Institute made the decision to evacuate the entire campus due to a shift in the winds blowing to the northeast. Students and staff left campus in cars and the coach, leaving behind a campus with smoke pervading the air. Pine Hills Academy, near Auburn, graciously provided shelter for the college, NEWSTART, HEALTH, and Institute employees and families. Some students studied, several played games, and still others brought out their instruments. Within two hours of evacuation, the initial threat of the changing winds and increased fire dangers subsided adequately for us to return to campus. Although the intensity of the fire is still increasing as temperatures rise during the day and winds are continuing to blow, we are currently back on campus praying that we will not have to evacuate again.For continued updates on this fire, visit: http://yubanet.com/nevada/Applegate.php
Although we clearly see danger and fire all around us, God has not let the Applegate Fire burn us down. God, through Isaiah 43:2, proves true again:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.