On the eve of graduation ceremonies, Westmont College in Montecito was ordered evacuated, leaving campus officials scrambling to see to it that 500 to 600 students are moved off campus with little notice. Law enforcement officials have granted Westmont a three hour window-which ends at noon Friday-to allow Westmont parents to pick up their sons and daughters, as well as their belongings. Scott Craig, Westmont public information officer, said that when college officials met with fire officials last night at 9 p.m., they were told it was doubtful that Westmont would even be placed on the evacuation warning list. “That just shows how fast things can change,” said Craig. He said he can see one plume of smoke to the north of campus, but much more smoke to the campus’s east.
Adding to the chaos, Westmont graduation is scheduled to take place Saturday and a pre-commencement ceremony, “The Baccalaureate,” iis scheduled for this evening at 5 p.m., The graduation remains slated to take place at Santa Barbara City College’s La Playa stadium, but the baccalaureate, which was to happen on campus, has been moved, to La Playa stadium. There are 311 students in this year’s graduating class.
Craig said about one-quarter of the students have their own cars, and he is hoping that those students with cars can take some of the students without cars. For those whose parents can’t get them in time, and who can’t get a ride otherwise, Craig said Westmont has a fleet of vehicles.