Getty fire prompts evacuations, school closure


Photo credit: Wyatt Stein

The Getty fire burns near Brentwood at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, October 28. The lights of the city are distorted by the heat of the fire, which was clearly visible from a residential hill less than 2 miles from Archer.

Head of School Elizabeth English woke up at 3 a.m. on Monday to the sound of sirens and helicopters. The Getty fire, which sparked when the Santa Ana Winds carried a tree branch into a city power line, had started less than two hours before.

“It was unlike anything I’ve experienced before,” English, who lives near Archer, said.

By 3:30, the senior administrative team was assembled remotely. Because Archer was in the mandatory evacuation zone, leadership cancelled classes for the day. Later communications extended closures through Thursday; school resumed Friday.

“I’m grateful for the patience of our entire community,” English said. “It’s hard not to be in your regular routine, doing the things that you love to do. I’m very proud of everyone.”

The fire has burned approximately 745 acres and 12 homes. It was 66% contained as of Friday morning. Community members offered up guest rooms and donations to Archer families in the Brentwood area that were evacuated.

“So many friends reached out and said ‘If you need anything, just come to our home; we’re here for you,'” seventh grader August Kohn, whose family was evacuated, said. “It was really nice to feel supported, since I’m new this year. I already have a family at Archer that’s there for me.”

Students could wear costumes to school on Friday, but the special schedule from Halloween did not carry over.

“I’m a little sad about [Archer’s traditional Halloween festivities being canceled],” Kohn said. “But honestly, all that matters is that everyone’s safe. There’s always next year — it’s not the end of the world.”

Teachers reached out to students Wednesday night with assignments to complete remotely, according to an email from Upper School Director Gretchen Warner.

“Our faculty are incredible nimble and flexible,” English said. “I don’t have any doubt that they’ll be able to make up what was missed in inventive ways.”

The Oracle will continue to report on this developing story.