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Winds force closure of Cal State San Bernardino; fire fears rise

January 27, 2012 | 11:00 am

Concerned about flying debris, Cal State University San Bernardino canceled classes for the day Friday morning as strong Santa Ana winds barreled though the Cajon Pass.

The move came after the National Weather Service issued a red-flag fire warning for many parts of Southern California from Friday night to Saturday night.

Officials began sending alerts via email, Twitter and other social media about 10 a.m. informing students about the closures, said Sid Robinson, a university spokesman.

“It’s because of safety issues that come from flying debris and doors slamming and those types of things,” Robinson said. “We’ve had instances in the past where winds got truly crazy and they literally moved people. Right now, the concern is debris, trees, branches and anything that could possibly be blown down and hit somebody.”

Robinson said employees were being dismissed for the day in stages, with some staying until just after noon. He said that cancellation of classes because of wind events happens about once every year or two, stressing that because the campus is at the base of the Cajon Pass, it is susceptible to strong gusts.

In 2003, the university closed during a wildfire that ravaged much of Southern California, sending sparks onto the campus that destroyed one building and damaged others, Robinson said. The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning out of concern that the Santa Ana winds could escalate fire danger in some areas.


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-- Hector Becerra