UCLA Cancels Classes After Students, Faculty Complain as Fire Rages

"Don't put students at the whim of their professors, who decide their grades," tweeted instructor Amanda Freise

This story is no longer being updated. For the latest information on the Skirball Fire, click here.

Some UCLA faculty and students expressed frustration on social media with the university remaining open Wednesday morning and initially allowing professors to decide whether to hold classes as a massive brush fire raged nearby on the 405 Freeway.

The UCLA media relations team issued an updated news release at 11:05 a.m. announcing that the campus would close for the afternoon despite not being in an evacuation zone. 

"While the campus itself is safe, difficult traffic conditions continue to prevent many students, faculty and staff from reaching UCLA. Consequently, UCLA is canceling classes today that begin on or after noon," the release said. 

The fire, dubbed the Skirball Fire, halted the 405 Freeway near the world-famous Getty Center and prompted mandatory evacuations for those nearby. The 150-acre fire began at 4:52 a.m. Wednesday and was fueled by 25 mph Santa Ana winds. The 405 highway is one of the busiest in the nation and left commuters stunned as many took to social media to share pictures of their commute. 

Some faculty and staff took to Twitter to post their safety concerns. 

"Don't put students at the whim of their professors, who decide their grades. Formally cancel all classes so that no student feels pressure to get to campus/go outside in the smoke!" tweeted microbiology lecturer Amanda Freise. 

The uproar was apparently fueled by an initial news release that said the campus was open and "classes will depend on the availability of instructors" and that "students who are on campus should report to class as normal."

"All other staff, faculty and students who are off campus should only come to campus if safely able until the situation is resolved," the release also said.

The university also later canceled Wednesday's home basketball game at the Pauley Pavilion. 

The UCLA School of Law canceled its morning final exams, the Daily Bruin reported. Other finals are due to start next week. 

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