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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Southern California Fires by Matt McGann '00

Our thoughts go out to those affected by the wildfires.

As you’ve probably heard, Southern California is being devastated by wildfires. Half a million people have evacuated their homes, and more than 1300 homes have been destroyed.

The hardest hit has been San Diego, where every school in the entire county has been closed. San Diego County has 646 public schools, with nearly 500,000 students. A thousand homes have been destroyed.

From myself and all of my colleagues in Admissions, we send our best to everyone impacted by this situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

We know that for some of you, it may be weeks, or even months, before things get back to normal. Please know that for students directly affected by the fires, we will be as accommodating and flexible as possible regarding applications to MIT. We are willing to work with your individual circumstances, whatever they may be. Get in touch with us when the time is right for you and we’ll be happy to work with you and accommodate your situation as much as we can. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions regarding your specific circumstances.

This means that we know that you may have limited access to the Internet, to your computer and files, and your home over the coming days. We know that your interviewer may also be affected. We know that your teachers are also impacted and may need extra time to complete recommendations for you. Do not worry about your application right now. We will be flexible for your circumstances.

Another thought — watching these helicopters carry their relatively miniscule payloads of water (relative to the size of the fire and frequency of water dumps), I can’t help but think that there must be a better solution to fighting these fires. Maybe it’s an engineering solution, maybe it’s a scientific/chemical solution, but it’s certainly a problem crying out to be solved.

The summer/fall of my application year to college, areas near my home were also the site of wildfires for 13 days. It destroyed 6800 acres of forest, but luckily only one house was destroyed and nine others were damaged. I remember volunteering at my high school, which served as an evacuation center. I was happy to be able to help out. Now, as I watch from a hotel in thousand of miles and an entire country away (in Toronto), I can only send my best thoughts and some support for the Red Cross.

17 responses to “Southern California Fires”

  1. Ronald says:

    sorry for being off-topic,but i have a question,
    can someone tell me what’s the deadline for submission of the application fee waiver request?
    do check in ur my mit account and tell me,i can’t do it coz i’ve already submitted my part 1.

  2. llpitch says:

    first haha

    I have a house in San Diego. Pray for it =[

  3. Hunter '11 says:

    Oh geez. Twice, the wildfires have been near my home. My uncle’s home was destroyed a few years back. Though my home isn’t in San Diego, I have friends at both USD and UCSD. Wish the firefighters lots of luck.

    I love how MIT is always so understanding about situations like this. I remember a similar problem when I was applying.

  4. Harrison says:

    Yeah wasn’t it like a blizzard in Buffalo and some earthquakes in Hawaii that all happened at the same time or something like that?

  5. Phillip Z. says:

    Dear Matt:

    Your blog entry is VERY much appreciated. I had just thought to e-mail you guys about the situation when, to my pleasant surprise, I discovered that you were already on top of it.

    My entire area has been under mandatory evacuation for almost two days now. We packed and drove to my parents’ work right by the beach, but because of the smoke and ash (which are now plaguing most of the county) we’re now staying with some relatives in Los Angeles.

    My interviewer, too, has been forced to evacuate and we are working on finding a new time and place that works for both of us. I know for a fact that several of my teachers live within evacuation zones as well. It was a great relief to see that you had already posted an answer to my questions about the situation.

    It’s all very unreal. On Sunday night most of us were just hoping for school to be canceled for a “fire day” (as opposed to an east coast “snow day”). However, strong, dry winds have pushed the fire west at an astonishing rate and many of us now have very real concerns about the safety of our homes. The fire has burnt right through some of my best friends’ neighborhoods, and is now only a couple miles away from our high school.

    School has indeed been canceled for at least this week, and I can only hope that it will survive to reopen at all.

    Once again, thank you for your dedication and concern.


  6. Veronica says:


    Thanks a lot for your sympathies. I was just thinking about calling the admissions office for information about how MIT would be handling the So. Cal situation. It’s great that you’ve already thought to answer our questions. Hopefully the fires will subside soon.

    Thanks again,


  7. Nihar says:

    My heartfelt best to those affected…I totally sympathize with your situation, having been chased by major earthquakes half my life.

    As Matt rightly said, you are in our prayers.

  8. Hunter '11 says:

    I thought it was something in another country, Harrison, but I have a useless memory..

  9. Anonymous says:

    MIT, how philanthropic art thou!

  10. manoj says:

    It is a matter of concern that the fire has destroyed a lot,but we have to think all about to minimize the damage from it. there has become a lot of destruction of man and money,and really of course of the environment,i’m also deeply concerned about it.
    now the solution,i think,may be that we replace all the things as soon as possible,and beware of such kind of future tragedies.

  11. EV says:

    I was just kinda curious on wether or not you have any admission statistics based purely on intl’s…

    Since I bet some of us don’t get ’em 800’s on ’em reading and writing tests. I sure didn’t…

  12. ronald says:

    temme temme temme….

  13. Winnie says:


  14. Walter says:

    You guys have been much of help to me and my folks.THANKS!!!

  15. Gina says:

    You guys are awesome.I never would’ve done anything withought you guys,I thank you oh so much for all you guys have done for me.You have saved my family .You guys have also saved my job, wich is : Gina Harrison Nails & Hair.If someone of you guys would come over here,I would cut your hair for free or your nails.Thanks Again!!!

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