Campus Fire Safety

To: UCSC Community

From: Nick Otis UCSC Fire Marshal and Kevin Domby Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police

Over the past few weeks, UC Santa Cruz has experienced several small wildfires. The most recent occurred this morning near Thimann Labs. The Santa Cruz Fire Department has ruled out arson and believes they are isolated events linked to smoking and outside party spots on campus. 

Our actions can have rippling effects that impact the entire campus and beyond. If just one of these fires erupts into something larger, it could have catastrophic impacts. Each year in California, wildland and vegetation fires destroy thousands of acres and hundreds of homes. In 2020, it happened in our community when the CZU Lightning Complex wildfires destroyed roughly 1,000 homes in Santa Cruz County, and required the emergency evacuation of the campus.

For more than a decade, UC Santa Cruz has been a smoke-free campus. Under California law, “unlawfully causing a fire that recklessly sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned, any structure, forest land or property is a felony punishable with both imprisonment and fines.”

The air quality in our area has been affected recently by prescribed burns at Wilder and Año Nuevo State Parks carried out by the California State Parks. These burns will continue throughout the month. 

Wildfire safety is a shared responsibility among students, staff and faculty. For more information, please visit our Wildfire Awareness and Wildfire Smoke webpages.