House of SMC professor burns down


During spring break, Los Angeles firefighters responded to the two-story residence of Santa Monica College Chemistry professor Dr. John Harwig, after his Woodland Hills home erupted in flames on Tuesday afternoon, April 12. Harwig and his family escaped without injuries.

Harwig stood outside of his house on the 21900 block of Woodland Crest Drive, while firefighters battled raging flames that originated from the family's living room. Meanwhile, clouds of black smoke poured out of every window. 

According to Dr. Jennifer Merlic, Professor of Chemistry, Physical Science Department Chair, and Harwig's colleague for twenty years, Harwig's family and their three sons were inside their home Tuesday when the fire began. His sons were on their spring break from school.

Because of the quick response of the firefighters, a number of Harwig's pets were rescued: turtles, guinea pigs, and two cats were safely removed from the burning home. Firefighters treated one of the cats with oxygen.

Making their safety a priority, the family was unable to retrieve any of their personal belongings. A considerable amount of possessions were lost. However, Harwig's home is insured.

Although unavailable for an interview, Harwig mentioned that his family is "still in the process of trying to get settled in temporary housing." His family is currently residing in a hotel before renting a furnished home for at least a year, said Merlic.