Following Devastating Wildfires, Ventura County Finds Community in Heartbreak

All eyes were on California last week — at first for the mass shootings, and then for the deadly wildfires that followed. It’s been six days of tragedy and heartache for residents at both ends of the state. First came the Camp Fire up north, which ignited shortly after dawn on November 8th some 20 miles outside Chico. Eight hours later, in near simultaneity, the Hill and Woolsey fires sprang to life on either side of the Thousand Oaks.

In Southern California the flames stormed through steep, bone dry chaparral canyons, fanned by 70 mph gusts of Santa Ana winds, threatening 75,000 homes in both LA and Ventura counties and forcing the evacuation of more than 265,000 residents. In the coming hours, the wall of fire would all but surround Agoura Hills and Oak Park, choking off access to Calabasas, and jumping the 101 Freeway in a frenzied sprint through the mountains of Malibu all the way to the salted spray of Zuma Beach. By the time daylight broke, gone with the winds were the iconic Paramount Ranch, filming hotspot for nearly a century of cinematic history, and a replica of the equally famed M*A*S*H set (rebuilt after the original itself burned in 1982).

But amidst all the stories of destruction are moments of humanity and community — as the flames continued to spread, perfect strangers found ways to come together. Perhaps one of the most heartwarming moments came at the edge of the Pacific. With no idea where to run, creatures of all kinds took shelter at a makeshift evacuation center on Zuma Beach — the sand and ocean beyond acting like a natural fire break.

Big Heart Ranch was in trouble. Home to a number of rescued and rehabilitated chickens, bunnies, goats, pigs, horses, donkeys, “and even a couple of alpacas,” there were a lot of lives on the line. As the flames pushed through Malibu, volunteers and caretakers raced to get the animals out of harm’s way. Soon after, photos spread across social media of mini horses and a pair of alpacas relaxing on the beach, tied safely to the lifeguard stations — the air glowing an alien red around them.

The heroes who helped save the animals from the many ranches throughout the burn zone are only a few of many who answered the call to action last week. We’d be remiss if we didn’t also acknowledge all of the first responders and firefighters who worked themselves to the bone trying to make sure everyone got out safely — as well as the volunteers manning shelters throughout the region. In the midst of chaos, kindness and heroism prevailed. We don’t have enough room in this article to give all those who helped out the recognition each and everyone is due, but we know:  without them, things could have been so much worse.

While the Hill Fire appears to have been mostly contained (90%), the Woolsey fire currently stands at 35% as of yesterday. According to an incident update today by the County of Los Angeles Fire Department, thanks to the tireless efforts of fire crews, full containment can be expected by November 18th. Until then, all those impacted should remain vigilant.

If you’ve been affected by either the Woolsey or Hill Fires, information and resources about support and recovery can be found and If you haven’t been affected by the fires, but would like to provides assistance to those who have been, 805 Help can connect you with those in need.

If you or someone you know needs help. Please reach out. These resources are here to help you. Together we are stronger.


Check Out These References for Further Reading:

“Woolsey Fire Incident Update.” County of Los Angeles Fire Department. Retrieved 12 November 2018.

“Ventura County Emergency Information.” Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. Retrieved 12 November 2018.

“Recovery Resources.” 805 Help. Retrieved 12 November 2018.



2019-02-01T16:01:32-08:00November 14th, 2018|Hill Fire, Ventura County, Wildfires, Woolsey Fire|0 Comments