Villa Alvarado residents react to brush fire, evacuations


Jack Molmud

Bombero sofoca incendio de maleza al este del campus y causó evacuaciones.

by Johann Derek Oribello, Staff Writer

San Diego State students responded positively to the way the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department handled the recent brush fire near campus that forced residents from Villa Alvarado to briefly evacuate on Sept. 16.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokeswoman Mónica Muñoz said in an email the firefighters worked together with Heartland Fire department and Federal Fire department to quickly contain the brush fire when it struck the northeast end of campus.

“Our first crew arrived within five minutes of the dispatcher entering the information into the computer aided dispatch system,” Muñoz said. “Our firefighters along with Heartland Fire and Federal Fire were able to hold the fire to about two-and-a-half acres.”

Due to the fire, residents at Villa Alvarado had to evacuate from the complex. Mechanical engineering sophomore Billy Bilicki, who was present when the fires were ablaze, said the scene was chaotic as they tried to evacuate.

“The flames were actually pretty large,” Bilicki said. “There were like four or five firetrucks and (the firefighters) were strategizing on how to put it out. The fire alarms were going off and it was really chaotic, people were scrambling everywhere.” 

Despite the fire’s adverse effects on the complex’s residents, students’ perceptions on how fire officials handled the incident was positive. Accounting sophomore Kevin Bays said the authorities handled the fires in an efficient and effective manner.

“The boys in blue got it under control and the firefighters handled it really well,” Bays said. “It was actually a quick response.”  

The fire prompted concerns from residents who weren’t present at the scene during the incident. Business sophomore Alex Schenkhuizen said the brushfire sparked concerns from his group of friends about his well-being. 

“I wasn’t here… But I heard that Villa Alvarado was on fire through the GroupMe,” Schenkhuizen said. “It was kinda concerning, I got texts from friends offering for me to stay at their places.” 

Muñoz said in an email the winds caused the fire to transfer from one side of College Avenue to the other. 

“It was the very light winds that carried embers to the brush along Alvarado Road,” Muñoz said. “The fire also continued to move to other canyons in the general vicinity. Those canyons are prime fire targets when the winds are strong.” 

Muñoz also said  the best response to an incident such as this is to prepare an emergency plan with whoever is in your household. 

“It’s not too late to create and practice your emergency plan,” Muñoz said. “It’s great to have a ‘go bag’ of items that are packed and ready to go. Clothing, important documents, medications and prescriptions and items that are important to you are what need to be in the bag.”