[Healeys] Spring Fire in Newbury Park, California

Derek Job derek.c.job at gmail.com
Sat May 4 01:26:19 MDT 2013

Good luck to you and your family Bert. Sounds like a horrific experience.
Difficult for us to imagine over here in the UK.


On Sat, May 4, 2013 at 6:33 AM, Bert Van Brande <bertvanbrande at yahoo.com>wrote:

> It's been a crazy couple days... it all started with a careless driver
> tossing
> a cigaret out of a car on the 101 at the Conejo incline yesterday morning
> at a
> moment when we had Santa-Anna winds. These winds come from the north-east
> inland and as they speed up through the canyons they heat up.  Temperatures
> rose yesterday by 20-30 degree Fahrenheit and humidity dropped from 80% to
> single digit. In no time this fire spread to Camarillo and the Dos Vientos
> community in Newbury Park where the Sycamore Canyon Elementary and Middle
> school and the high-school needed to be evacuated. So my wife picked up
> Benjamin and Helena and brought a couple friends to our house to shelter
> until
> things cleared on the other side of the community.  No houses were lost
> due to
> amazing fire crews.
> From there the fire raced down to the pacific ocean about
> 8 miles away. On the way down the California State University Channel
> Islands
> needed to be evacuated.  This used to be a Mental institution (nothing
> changed, right?)  and rumored to be the Hotel California from that same
> Eagles
> song.  ...You can check in every time of day but you can never leave... By
> night time the fire reached the ocean and started to spread east towards
> Malibu and threatened the Pt Mugu Naval base.
> Late morning the winds turned
> from NE to SW and the fire now headed straight back to our home.  It was
> moving away from us the day before.  I raced back from work to make sure
> everyone was ok and that we were prepared. A dark ominous cloud came right
> over us and ashes started to rain down. The air was barely breathable. My
> son
> Alex came over to help and we closed all vents with aluminum flashing and
> foil
> tape. This is where glowing embers usually get sucked into attics. I
> called a
> tow company and my Austin-Healey BN2 "Work in Progress" was brought to a
> safe
> spot.
> With our important documents ready in a plastic box, our photo albums,
> external hard-drive and some necessities we were ready to go on an instant.
> The fire had reached the west side of Hidden Valley right behind us. This
> valley is home to some celebrities like Tom Selleck and Chris Rock. Sean
> Connery is selling his ranch there and Britney Spears live on the east
> side of
> this valley!  There are a lot of huge ranches in Hidden Valley and our
> ex-neigbor trains thorougbred jumpers there.  This is just over the hill
> behind us probably just half a mile away.  Late pm West Hidden Valley was
> under voluntary evacuation, people and horses were brought into safety but
> again no houses lost.
> And then late afternoon the wind kept turning to a
> south wind and slowed down, this breeze brought cold air from the ocean and
> humidity. And so this dark cloud started to drift away and the fire
> started to
> somewhat subside. The firefighters are focussing their efforts now around
> Yerba Buena road in Malibu but we could still see spot fires on nearby
> hills
> so things are not completely over yet. It can be 10 days or so before it's
> all
> clear and the fire called 100% contained.  About an hour ago firemen are
> setting controlled fires on the ridge right above us to clear away the
> "fuel".
> My family is still in stand-by but we're all safe and as much prepared as
> we
> can be. If the wind does not pick up tomorrow and temperatures keep
> dropping
> then our community has a chance to come through almost unscathed although
> the
> hills and mountains 360 degrees around us are blackened.  28000 acres of
> scorched earth so far. We've seen more birds and insects around the house
> this
> afternoon and there are mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes and
> mule-deer
> in the hills and valleys behind us. I hope they found safety in the
> mountains
> to the east. But after all fire is part of the cycle of nature here and
> some
> of the seeds actually need the heat to break open to let new seedlings
> grow.
> Tomorrow 2 Hercules C130J firefighting planes will join the battle,
> ironically
> they are stationed only 5 miles from the fire in Port Hueneme Naval Base.
> Crews are preparing them for their task, but the real unsung heroes are
> those
> 915 firefighters with their boots on the ground, coming from all over
> California to keep this community safe.  We cannot thank them enough.
> Bert
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