Nearly 100 retired nuns evacuated from LA nursing home threatened by fire

Maintenance workers, nurses, administrators and drivers offer up their homes to provide refuge

A group of retired nuns evacuated the Carondelet Center in Brentwood during the Skirball fire. (Melissa Etehad / Los Angeles Times)

Mary Kowalski wasn’t bothered when she was told by the nursing home staff to pack all her belongings and get ready to evacuate. It was at 5 a.m. Wednesday, and ash-filled smoke from the multimillion-dollar homes burning in the Skirball fire was all around. She got ready to leave.

Kowalski, 87, is among the nearly 100 retired nuns who live at the Carondelet Center in Brentwood — a nursing home for the Sisters of St. Joseph, a congregation of Catholic nuns.

The nursing home sits atop a hill and is surrounded by thick brush on all sides. It is also not far from the Sepulveda Pass. Firefighters Thursday worried that if winds picked up, the flames from the Skirball fire — which had already destroyed six homes and damaged 12 more — could jump the 405 Freeway and race west.

That would put the nursing home right in its path.

The staff had an idea: Why not have them stay with us?

Maintenance workers, nurses, administrators and drivers offered up their homes.

David Chand, a driver for the Carondelet Center, has four of the nuns staying at his home in Glendora. On Thursday afternoon he returned to the nursing home to gather a hospital bed, medications and clothes for the them.

“They’re all doing well,” Chand said.

Residents need medical attention were transferred to other assisted-living centers. Six were evacuated to places in Orange County and the San Fernando Valley, McMullen said.

And at least 15 are staying at the Nazareth House, an assisted-living community in Culver City.

Full story at The LA Times.

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  1. Your Fellow Catholic says:

    Praying for all of those threatened by the fires and the first responders, just as we did in Northern California. I was just in wine country and the outpouring of love for their first responders was palpable, as was the pain in the community. Too bad that too many ignore our Pope’s pleas to care for our common home.

  2. CUT BACK THE BRUSH. I remember a fire in San Diego over thirty years ago. Fire personnel had canvassed a neighborhood this time of year, urging residents to clear brush, etc. One old lady on the block did so; other residents did not. Two weeks later, a wildfire raced up the canyon and down the block. I shall never forget the TV image of that womans house standing, thanking the fire personnel, while all others were ashes. [Bible Story??]. Will God provide for those who do nothing?

  3. Sr. Linda Nicholson, CSJ says:

    It delights us to see the care of our dear sisters at Carondelet Center, our Motherhouse, during this time of fire. We are grateful to the Firefighters, Responders, Caregivers and those who shared their homes. God bless you.

  4. So glad the sisters are safe!

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