San Luis Obispo County

SLO student describes escape from northern California wildfires

Rachel Burns forced to evacuate Sonoma State dorm

SLO students escapes flames from...

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - As flames came creeping close from the firestorm burning in Northern California, Rachel Burns had only 30 minutes to pack a bag with what she could and evacuate from her dorm room at Sonoma State University. 

Burns isn’t taking this moment for granted hugging her mom extra tight.

She had to leave everything behind evacuating her room as flames from wildfires up north came way too close.  

"You could see the orange glow in the distance and a little bit of smoke, you could feel it,” said Burns. 

She left early Monday morning to go somewhere safe.

"At 3:30 in the morning my phone was going ding ding ding over and over again,” she said. 

Those dings were text messages from her mom, Robin. She wanted to make sure her daughter was getting out of her room as quickly as possible. 

"I thought oh gosh that’s kind of close to my daughter,” said Robin Mitchell Hee, Burns' mom. 

Burns thought this was the last thing that would ever happen during her first year away at school. 

"You are up there on your own and you don’t know what you’re going and let alone when a fire breaks out,” said Burns. "I was definitely worried,” said her mom. 

She’s thankful to be home in San Luis Obispo after driving back with a friend from college and her mom meeting her halfway.

"We went down the '5' at 6 a.m. and my mom met us at Kettleman City and drove me west back here,” said Burns. 

Burns is now spending some time back home with her mom who she calls her best friend. Both of them are breathing a sigh of relief knowing she is somewhere safe. 

Now she’s helping to collect indispensable items that will help the victims of the fires.

"I am collecting donations from friends I have here and family members and bringing that up my self,” she said. 

Burns is not the only one helping out, Meathead Movers is also chipping in. You can drop off items at the company's location on Higuera Street in the city of San Luis Obispo until Sunday.

They have a list of things they are looking for on their Facebook page

Burns said she expects to be back to school on Monday, but that could change depending on the situation. 


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