So­Cal wild­fires

Thou­sand Oaks, Mal­ibu evac­u­ated

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN J. COOPER and BRIAN MELLEY

THOU­SAND OAKS, Calif. — A city reel­ing from the tragedy of a mass shoot­ing was un­der a siege of a dif­fer­ent sort Fri­day as rag­ing wild­fires on both sides of the city forced wide­spread evac­u­a­tions and shut down part of the main free­way to town.

Flames driven by pow­er­ful winds torched at least 150 homes in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, burn­ing parts of tony Cal­abasas and man­sions in Mal­ibu and prompt­ing or­ders for 250,000 peo­ple — in­clud­ing some celebri­ties — to flee as the fire marched across the Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains to­ward the sea. The cause of the blazes was not known.

For Thou­sand Oaks, which had been con­sid­ered one of the safest cities in the na­tion be­fore a gun­man mas­sa­cred 12 peo­ple at a coun­try mu­sic bar, the spasm of vi­o­lence jolted the city’s sense of se­cu­rity. En­croach­ing flames, de­spite the near-con­stant threat of fire in the bone-dry state, pre­sented an en­tirely dif­fer­ent haz­ard.

“It’s dev­as­tat­ing. It’s like ‘wel­come to hell,’ ” res­i­dent Cyn­thia Ball, said about the dual dis­as­ters while she was out­side the teen cen­ter serv­ing as a shel­ter for evac­uees. “I don’t even know what to say. It’s like we’re all walk­ing around kind of in a trance.”

A day ear­lier, the fa­cil­ity had been the lo­ca­tion where griev­ing fam­ily mem­bers had gath­ered and re­ceived the grim news on the fate of loved ones who had not re­turned from the Border­line Bar and Grill, where a Ma­rine com­bat vet­eran went on a shoot­ing ram­page Wed­nes­day be­fore ap­par­ently killing him­self.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into what drove Ian David Long, 28, to kill was con­tin­u­ing even as the city about 40 miles from Los An­ge­les was un­der threat from one of three ma­jor wild­fires burn­ing in the state.

Three-quar­ters of the city of 130,000 was un­der evac­u­a­tion or­ders — and that likely in­cluded peo­ple af­fected by the shoot­ing, Thou­sand Oaks

Mayor Andy Fox said.

“Here we are just a few hours later talk­ing now about an­other cri­sis right here in Thou­sand Oaks,” Fox said, mak­ing the dis­tinc­tion that the shoot­ing vic­tims and their fam­i­lies had ex­pe­ri­enced a per­ma­nent loss. “Those lives will never be re­cov­ered. Tonight we’re talk­ing about a se­ri­ous fire sit­u­a­tion, but thank­fully we have not lost a sin­gle life. And as dif­fi­cult as it may be, homes can be re­built, prop­erty can be reac­quired.”

Through­out the day, air tankers swooped through the skies, mak­ing low passes to dump wa­ter and flame re­tar­dant as fire­fight­ers tried to pro­tect homes amid gusts top­ping 60 mph. The winds and smoky con­di­tions made for dif­fi­cult fire­fight­ing and at times grounded fire­fight­ing air­craft.

The en­tire city of Mal­ibu — home to Hol­ly­wood stars and en­ter­tain­ment moguls — was un­der a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­der, los­ing power in places.

In Thou­sand Oaks, flames creep­ing down a hill­side were vis­i­ble from the teen cen­ter on Janss Road — named for the fam­ily that orig­i­nally de­vel­oped the hilly ter­rain cov­ered with ma­jes­tic Cal­i­for­nia oaks into what has be­come a large bed­room com­mu­nity.

Ven­tura County Su­per­vi­sor Pe­ter Foy made a plea at a fire news con­fer­ence to res­i­dents to help their neigh­bors dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate every­body’s ef­forts and kind prayers from all the peo­ple for our vic­tims that lost their lives in the shoot­ing to now what’s hap­pen­ing with peo­ple los­ing their homes,” Foy said.

A sec­tion of U.S. High­way 101, the main link be­tween Los An­ge­les and Ven­tura and Santa Bar­bara, was closed be­cause of fire.

The day be­fore un­der clear skies and no smoke, thou­sands gath­ered along the free­way to watch a mo­tor­cade car­ry­ing the body of a sher­iff’s deputy who was killed when he rushed in to con­front the mass shooter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.