Oct 302007
Authors: Cece Wildeman

There are now more than half a million people in California that have been displaced by the rampant fires, according to Morgan Merriman, a former Fort Collins resident now living in California.

However, it is not only the people living in the paths of the fires that have been affected. Former Fort Collins locals, like Merriman, and current CSU staff are also feeling the affects of the fires.

Merriman is currently a senior at Woodbury University in San Diego, Calif., and said that at first the fires didn’t affect him very much because he lives out of the fires’ range near the beach. But after a while, he said, the skies began to fill with smoke, making it harder to breathe in an area where there is already low air quality.

Merriman said many people that have been volunteering at Qualcom Stadium, handing out food and water. Merriman is one of the many to spend a day at the stadium to help the relief effort.

“It was definitely overwhelming to volunteer at the stadium, but it was pretty under control,” Merriman said.

He said that he saw some college-aged people volunteering, but that it was mostly older people.

“It seemed like most students saw the fires as a way to get a day off of school, which happened for many of them,” he said.

Merriman is also involved in a class called society of sustainability, which focuses on living in an environmentally conscious way. The students in the class are trying to organize a project with their local Habitat for Humanity to build houses and help with the relief effort. The project would be done with the aid of Habitat for Humanity, but the students are hoping to accomplish it mostly themselves.

The wildfires have also affected students and faculty on the CSU campus. Patrick Plaisance, an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism has a brother and mother who live in California.

“The smoke was a big issue for my family,” Plaisance said.

Plaisance said that his family told him the smoke was so bad that they could not be outside for an extended period of time. Members of his family couldn’t find any breathing masks to wear when they were outside, so Plaisance bought some and shipped them to California.

None of Plaisance’s family was forced to evacuate, but there was a voluntary evacuation request for his brothers’ neighborhood, which is about two miles away from some of the fires, according to Plaisance.

People who chose to evacuate were given the option of going to the homes of friends or family or to Qualcom Stadium.

Dell Rae Moellenberg, who works with the CSU Public Relations office, said the office has not been notified of any events that are taking place on campus to contribute to the relief efforts. However, Holli Kinkel, who is involved with ASCSU, was informed by an ASCSU senator that the issue will be addressed in meetings in the next couple of weeks. to the relief efforts at this point, whether it be money, food and water, or clothing.

Senior reporter Cece Wildeman can be reached at news@collegian

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