72 Hours of Hell

17 November 2018

It's still hard to believe that Thousand Oaks was/is national news.  

Thursday morning we woke up to find out 12 people were murdered in a local bar on college night not less than 5 miles from our house.   Everyone was walking around just stunned from the news.

After getting Quinn from school I saw this on Facebook.   This was the Hill Fire burning in Newbury Park and not likely to impact us.


I went outside to see if I could see smoke from the fire and I saw this.  This was the Woolsey Fire in the San Fernando Valley.



This was the first fire that might impact us.  Don and I decided to pack up our valuables such as passports, jewelry, important documents, dog food, etc.  We didn't pack any clothes because we didn't think we would really need to evacuate.  But I was nervous and on high alert. 

Don was getting ready to go to bed and I checked the status of the fire.  Wow!  We decided I would stay up until midnight and then we would set an alarm for every couple of hours to check the status of the fire.   As this was our first rodeo, we weren't sure how we would be notified of evacuations.


10 minutes later you could see the fire was marching towards us because now we could see flames.


The fire was moving so quickly because of the strong Santa Ana winds.

Woolsey Fire from amy white on Vimeo.

All my friends were on high alert too.  Lots of texts back and forth late in the evening.  I had a friend promise to call me if she got an alert notice just in case we missed it (she did call). 

At 11:30 pm we got a recorded call that there was a Mandatory Evacuation.  I woke up Don and Quinn and we started packing our stuff.  We knew that we probably had several hours to evacuate but we wanted to get out as soon as possible.  We didn't want to get caught in traffic with the fire raging our way. 

Quinn was really upset and crying which was understandable.  He was so worried.  It was extremely stressful.   But our dude packed his bag better than Don or I. 

I had read that an evacuation center in Woodland Hills would accept animals so we took both cars and off we went at 11:45 pm. 


We were one of the first handful of people to arrive at the shelter at Pierce College.  Don got us checked in and was able to get 2 cots.  Quinn and I took the cots and Don slept in the car with Sonic.  The Humane Society was at the shelter but we decided Sonic would be happier in the car. 

And look who remembered his green blankie. 




I wasn't able to sleep at all.  I found a great twitter feed to follow called VC Scanner.  This young guy listens to all the local scanners and live tweets and he was tweeting like crazy for 24 hours straight.   

You can imagine how we were feeling reading tweets like these.  We really thought we could lose our house.  The first tweet was at 1:41 am.    To think that the fire was so strong it could cross 8 lanes on the 101.

All my friends were awake and I was getting tons of texts at 4 am.  Everyone was checking in with each other.  It was a source of comfort at such a stressful time.  

The next morning the fire was still strong and still in Thousand Oaks.  The last tweet above was from 6 am.  And because the winds were so strong the fire was very erratic.  Mandatory Evacuations were still in place. 

We had previously made reservations for a beach hotel in Oxnard for the long weekend so we decided to head there.  We had to drive right by TO so we decided to see if we could get back in our neighborhood but police had blocked of Westlake Blvd.  

The sky view from Vons.  


We arrived at the hotel in Oxnard around 10 am and were able to get into a room around 11 am.  There were alot of displaced families at the hotel.   

The scene there was unwordly.   I did not edit these images -- they are right out of my phone.  



We were fortunate that the hotel where we were staying was pet friendly although Sonic was stressed. 



A panorama going from South (towards Malibu) to North (towards Ventura). 



The next morning we woke to clearer skies. 


The fire was marching towards Malibu destroying everything in it's path including all the historic parks. 


We had made arrangements to leave Sonic with the dog sitter for the weekend but she was in the evacuation area too.  By Saturday she felt that they were safe so we ran Sonic to her house where we knew he would be much happier. 

We decided to swing by our neighborhood to check out the destruction and see our hosue.    Heart Attack hill totally charred. 


The view down our street.  You can see the charred mountains.


The fire appeared to stop at the fire road.   The hills to the right are charred. 


In our neighborhood the fires were right down to the backyards on some streets.  I saw some posts from neighbors that trees in their backyard were burned.  The firefighters did an amazing job!


One house was destroyed in the neighborhood next to ours.  It backs up to the open area that leads to heart attack hill.  A sad sight when the houses on both sides were untouched.  


It wasn't the beach weekend we expected and Quinn named it our evacu-cation.  But we were lucky to already have reservations because hotel rooms were very scarce. 


Our evacu-cation hotel. 


Here's the burn area.  I circled our house in blue and the red dots are homes that were destroyed.   I drew a little orange over parts of the area that were burned.  I have a whole new level respect for our firefighters. 


We love our little town newspaper, the Thousand Oaks Acorn.  They were doing such great reporting over the 72 hours and keeping everyone in the loop.   Once we returned home it was time to bury the 12 victims from the Borderline shooting.


12 California Poppies for 12 lives lost.  #TOStrong


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