I woke up on Dec. 5, not having slept much due to the high wind levels throughout the majority of Southern California. I rolled around in bed, feeling annoyed that I had to drive to school in just a few hours to attend a final mandatory class meeting.
I knew right away that this was going to be a rough day as I drove from Rancho Cucamonga to San Bernardino. In the time it took me to get from Rancho to Fontana, I had already seen three big rigs on their sides, one nearly falling off the freeway.
Once I got to San Bernardino I was able to add one more truck to the list, after seeing countless others lined up on the shoulder of the freeway to prevent further damage.
By the end of the day, I had seen at least five.
I went to my class, made one more trip and was ready to leave campus. I was on the west side of campus so decided I would take Kendall to the 215 freeway.
As I did, I noticed smoking coming up over the hill, this would turn out to be the Meyers Fire, so I decided I should head back to University Parkway.
I got through the light at Kendall easily but became stuck at the College Avenue light for about 20 minutes. During that time, I noticed that there was smoke coming from the mountain next to the University Parkway off-ramp of the 215, which I would later find out was the Little Mountain Fire.
As each minute passed, nervous thoughts came to my mind. ‘Would I have enough gas to get home?’ ‘Will my phone’s battery last?’ ‘Will I have to leave my car if the fire spreads too quickly?’ and so on.
Eventually, I made it through the light, but not before I got a text from the school saying that my usual way home was completely closed.
I decided to call my stepdad, knowing he knew his way around the area pretty well, to ask for new directions. He told me to head back to campus and gave me an alternate route.
It worked, but it took some time to even get back to campus because of the major backup.
I made it back to the 210 freeway after driving through an unfamiliar part of San Bernardino. As I drove past the closed 215 on-ramp, I saw smoke and smelt the fire.
This entire experience has left me feeling beyond grateful for those who are out there fighting the fires as we take our finals. They are true hero’s who I cannot thank enough for all that they do.