Several Ravens players who grew up in California and still have family and friends there said they do not know anyone who has been directly affected by the wildfires that began a week ago. But that has not lessened their concern for the state they have called home.
“It’s definitely scary,” said offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu, who grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Northridge. “… It’s very sad. It’s one of those types of things where you try to worry about what you can control. It’s really hard. It’s very sad, and all week, I’ve been praying for the families and the animals to make it out OK.”
Said cornerback Robertson Daniel, who hails from San Jose: “It’s really scary because when you have wildfires over there, they spread fast. It’s so dry and with the way the houses are set up, they’re close together, and all it takes is one, and all of a sudden, you’ve got 10, 15, 20. It’s scary because my stepmom still lives over there, my stepfather, my little brother.”
Fires in Southern California’s Los Angeles and Ventura counties and Northern California’s Butte County have killed at least 59 people and destroyed hundreds of homes and business. Many residents have been forced to evacuate their homes, and a tent city for evacuees was set up in a Walmart parking lot in Chico.
Grasu, whose family owns a pizzeria on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, said family members and friends have had to deal with ashes and soot on their property and vehicles, but have avoided the greater devastation that others have endured.
“It’s not the first time that these wildfires will happen down there, and it’s not the last either,” said Grasu, who splits his time in the offseason between Northridge and Oregon. “The firefighters do an unbelievable job of putting them out as fast as they can. I know it’s a tough job for them, but I’ve got to thank them for all of their hard work.”
As frightening as the wildfires are, Daniel — who lives in Utah — said they won’t drive out his family.
“It’s home for them,” he said. “They’re not going to leave. They wouldn’t leave if they were having a wildfire and an earthquake at the same time. When you live in California, you know what it comes with, the pros and cons. And the pros outweigh the cons.”
Tim White, who grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills, agreed. “Every year, we go through it, and it’s just part of it,” he said. “… They know how to come through. So I’m pretty sure they’ll figure their way out.”