Category Archives: Fire Info

To date 7 countries and 49 states responded by providing quilts

Volunteer Staci Brown and Kat Merrick proudly display one of the quilts available for those affected by recent tragedies.

On December 4, 2017 the Thomas Fire and mudslides devastated Ventura and Montecito. Watching this devastation unfold the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild(MQG)

and “superbuzzy” Fabrics & Craft Supplies Store decided to help by creating quilts for those affected. To date 7 countries and 49 states responded by helping in the quilting efforts and over 400 quilts were delivered to the Modern Quilting Guilds headquarters in Ventura.

Seeing the need for help in distributing the quilts to those affected they contacted Kat Merrick Founder of Totally Local VC’s Local Love Project for help.

On Thursday, March 8, the Modern Quilting Guild, Mission San Buena Ventura, The Jewish Federation of Ventura County and Totally Local VC’s Local Love Project hosted a Pop Up Shop to distribute quilts along with other donated houseware items. The event took place in the Parish Hall at the Mission.

Besides the handmade quilts the Jewish Federation donated sheet sets, Totally Local VC’s Local Love Project donated many items as did FOOD Share.

Scott Griffin, Ventura MQG VP and Kelly Stevens, Ventura MQG founding member and owner of superbuzzy, each began projects to bring comfort and loving warmth to the fire and slide victims. As the fire spread northwards, these efforts were coordinated to answer the quilt needs of victims in both Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

When founder Kat Merrick created Totally Local VC (TotallyLocalVC.com) over 9 years ago she and her team made a solid commitment to our community. When she lost her home in the Thomas Fire her commitment to helping others became even stronger.

She stated “Our goal is to activate members of our community in the aftermath of a traumatic event within Ventura County and the 805 to provide relief and support to those affected by disaster or in a time of need. We work to solve immediate needs for those impacted by either a disaster in our community or those in need as well as provide the necessary items to help our neighbors as they work to restore their lives.”

How did World Central Kitchen come to help Ventura during the Thomas Fires?

Chef Jose Andres at the Plaza Park benefit held for fire victims. Photo by Pam Baumgardner

by Jennifer Tipton

The nonprofit organization, World Central Kitchen was launched by Chef Jose Andres (born Jose Andres Ramon Puerta), a Spanish American chef credited for bringing the small plates dining concept to America. The celebrity chef owns 27 restaurants that spread from Las Vegas to Miami and has been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world. He received the James Beard Award for his humanitarian work here during the Thomas Fires (it was not his first).

Ventura’s very own Dr. Susanne Lammot, a pediatrician known for her charitable involvement with the Boys and Girls Club had a connection with one of the relief directors at World Central Kitchen. Responding to a local disaster like the Thomas Fires, the organization likes to connect with a local chef and Susanne called our own Chef Jason Collis on December 6th, just two days after the Thomas Fires erupted and relief efforts began.

I spoke with Chef Jason, one-time owner of Ventura’s restaurant “Jonathan’s” and “J’s Tapas & Martini Bar”. Jason and his wife, Jocelyn have a son and daughter, they sold the businesses when he realized how many birthdays and holidays he had missed, “I didn’t want to be stuck behind the grill to realize one day that I’d missed seeing my kids grow up”.

Their new business, “Plated Events” does exclusive catering and venue management for Limoneira Ranch and The San Buenaventura Mission, doing weddings, corporate events and local fundraisers including being one of the co-producers for the benefit at Plaza Park. Jason said, “when I saw how big it was with World Central Kitchen, I called up Chef Tim Kilcoyne and we worked side by side throughout the entire relief effort along with other local chefs such as Kayla Hernandez, the instructor for the culinary program at Ventura High School”.

World Central Kitchen “tries to tap into local resources to stimulate the local economy” (buying from local farmers and businesses), but they were blown away with the generosity of Ventura”, said Jason. FOOD Share, local farmers and businesses all donated. Buena, Villanova and Thacher schools provided food because “schools were closed, and they had all that food in the cafeteria!”. Ventura Party Rental was instrumental in donating their time and resources by picking up and delivering everything in their trucks.

With 200 volunteers a day for 60 days straight, the World Central Kitchen delivered greater than 35,000 meals to first responders and victims of the Thomas Fires in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, they were presented a portion of the proceeds from the Plaza Park benefit because the committee from the benefit “felt the City of Ventura was blown away with what they did, and we wanted to pay it forward to help the organization with Chef Jose Andres’ mission”, I was told.

Chef Jason contributed 16 hours a day of his own time December 7th to December 27th with World Central Kitchen. Catholic Charities gives an award to those that go “above and beyond”; the San Buenaventura Mission has nominated Chef Jason and wife Jocelyn for their help with World Central Kitchen and Thomas Fire relief efforts.

Ojai Studio Artists respond to the Thomas Fire

“Scorched Souls” is the upcoming exhibition of the Ojai Studio Artists at the Ojai Valley Museum. The exhibit documents the OSA artists’ reactions to the Thomas Fire, the largest fire in California state history.

The exhibit will run until June 17. A portion of sales from the show will be donated to a local fire relief fund.

Another highlight of the show will be the “Town Talk” at the show’s closing reception on Sunday June 17. OSA artists and OSA art collectors who lost work in the fire will discuss how they’re moving forward after the fire. Artists will also be on hand for a book signing of the “Scorched Souls” catalogue documenting this exhibit.

The Ojai Valley Museum is located at 130 West Ojai Ave. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – Sunday, 12-4 p.m. For more information, please call 640-1390.

CAPS and your stories

Share recordings of the Thomas Fire for the historic project.

CAPS and your stories

CAPS Media is recording Thomas Fire Stories with the public, fire fighters, first responders and others who want to share their story. The extensive documentary project is a collaboration with Ventura City Fire and Police, Ventura County Fire, Sheriff, Office of Emergency Response and the Museum of Ventura County. The year-long, comprehensive project includes an ongoing series of television and radio archival interviews and recordings with first responders, individuals and families whose lives were dramatically changed the night of December 4th.

We began our first recording schedule Sunday March 11th at the Ojai Valley Museum. The stories we have heard so far were powerful and inspiring and we look forward to hearing many more. We will continue with our pop-up recording booths in libraries and museums throughout the months of March and April. The next one is scheduled for March 25th at the Ojai Library from 12pm to 4pm. The following session with be held at the CAPS Media Center on Saturday March 31st at 11am. On April 2nd at 5pm we will be at EP Foster Library and at the Avenue Library Saturday April 14th from 10am-2pm. The final two sessions will be held at the Ventura County Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula Sunday April the 22nd with the final session on May 20th at the Museum of Ventura County from 11am-3pm. If you can’t make one near you, feel free to stop by any location to share your story.

If you have photos or video to contribute to the legacy, CAPS Media has set up a simple process for the public to share recordings of the Thomas Fire for the historic project. Go to the CAPS Media website homepage (capsmedia.org) and click on the Read More arrow on the lower right corner of the Thomas Fires Stories image. The page presents more details on the project and step-by-step instructions on how to contribute photos, video and other media.

If you have a story to share, send an email to thomasfirestories@capsmedia.org or call the CAPS Media Center at 658.0500.

Members, producers, technicians, hosts, dee jays and performers are what makes CAPS Media Center click. Our mission is to create an engaged and informed community through participation in electronic media. Find out more about how you can be part of this enthusiastic community by attending orientation on the first Thursday of every month. Member classes include HD videography/camera class held on the 2nd Thursday, Final Cut postproduction editing class on the 3rd Thursday, and CAPS Radio (KPPQ, FM 104.1) two-part classes this month on the 5th week. In every training session Member/Producers receive hands-on instruction in videography, video editing, radio production and more. All classes begin at 6pm at the CAPS Media Center, 65 Day Road. Trained member/producers may check out CAPS Media’s video cameras, tripods, audio gear and other production equipment to record their story and then book editing suites to craft the story they want to tell. Go to capsmedia.org for information or call 658-0500.

Were you affected by Thomas Fire or the flood?

The Ventura and Santa Barbara County Lions Clubs have a onetime offer for Thomas Fire and flood survivors.

They have grant money to assist in your loss. If you need a one-time grant for assistance with rent, clothing, and vehicle or food expenses they want to help you.

Please email mikeinojai@gmail.com and he will reply back with a grant request form.

All grant request forms must be received by April 1st, 2018. All our funds must be distributed by April 30th, 2018.

Donations funded by:

  • Camarillo / Somis PV Lions Club
  • Ventura Downtown Lions
  • Orcutt Lions Club
  • Camarillo High School Leos Lions Club
  • Santa Paula Lions Club, El Cajon Lions Club
  • Pismo Beach Lions Club, Nipomo Lions Club
  • Lincoln Lions Club, Saratoga Lions Club
  • Santa Maria Sunrisers Lions Club
  • Pismo Beach Lions Club
  • Templeton Lions Club
  • Lions of Multiple District C6 (Monterey, San Benito & Santa Cruz Counties)
  • Carpinteria Lions Club
  • Goleta Lions Club.

Valley Fever – more prevalent after Thomas Fires?

Dr. Brugman is a leading pulmonologist in Ventura.

by Jennifer Tipton

Native to the San Joaquin Valley (hence the name “Valley Fever”) this airborne fungal infection dates back as far as 1892 and may also be referred to as Desert Fever or Desert Rheumatism.

Valley Fever is due to the coccidioides fungus which enters the body through the respiratory tract when inhaled. The fungus is found in soil and is endemic or limited to certain regions such as Bakersfield or other desert areas along with the San Joaquin Valley.

I asked Dr. Brugman, a leading pulmonologist in Ventura, how the Thomas Fires contributed to the recent outbreaks of Valley Fever and he emphasized that the Santa Ana winds really perpetuated the problem but, “the fires were helpful in aerosolizing the fungus because the chaparral that burned had kept the dust on the ground”. He added, “the low humidity and the winds kicking up the dust are what really get it going”. He’s seen 15 cases of Valley Fever in the last few months where he usually sees 2-3 in a year. “A lot of people are coming in with pneumonia after inhaling the spores from the soil”, he reported.

Diagnostics may include a bronchoscopy where he can see the spores in the lungs and the treatment is most commonly an antifungal medication, some needed for up to 6 months.

The good news, most of the population have been exposed and aren’t even aware of it, while many others may have mild symptoms that usually go away on their own in a week or two. The bad news, the symptoms can progress to pneumonia or worse, disseminated cocci.
According to the C.D.C (Center for Disease Control), Valley Fever causes 15% to nearly 30% of community acquired pneumonias and time from contact until symptoms start is usually 1 to 3 weeks.
Symptoms such as fatigue, fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, sore throat, cough, and even weight loss or chest pain may occur.

If a case of Valley Fever becomes as serious as disseminated cocci, Dr. Brugman refers his patients to the dynamic infectious disease specialist, Dr. Gail Simpson.

Dr.Simpson tells me the organism that causes Valley Fever “is a dimorphic fungus and the spores can live in the soil for years and years until something stirs up the dust and puts it in the air”. She remembers a huge outbreak after the Moorpark fires when “even young, healthy people were in the I.C.U. (Intensive Care Unit) because the smoke causes stuff to sit in the air longer”.

Dr. Simpson reports she has seen a lot of cases since the Northridge earthquake in January 1994, “cocci just wasn’t that common before the earthquake, what happened is a lot of dirt from the cocci belt got redistributed all over the place”.

Valley Fever is not contagious and there is no medication to prevent it. Dr. Brugman’s advice for prevention, “if it’s dusty out, wear a mask, but it can’t be the cheap painter’s mask, it needs to be an N95 to filter out the dirt and particulate”. Good advice for anyone digging through the dirt and ash left by the Thomas Fires!

Thomas Fire stories

Do you have a story to share?

CAPS Media is recording Thomas Fire Stories with the public, fire fighters, first responders and others who want to share their story. The extensive documentary project is a collaboration with Ventura City Fire and Police, Ventura County Fire, Sheriff, Office of Emergency Response and the Museum of Ventura County. The year-long, comprehensive project includes an ongoing series of television and radio archival interviews and recordings with first responders, individuals and families whose lives were dramatically changed the night of December 4th.

Recordings of Thomas Fire Stories are being scheduled at locations throughout the county including the Museum of Ventura County, EP Foster Library, the Ojai Museum, the Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula and CAPS Media Center in Ventura. The public is invited and encouraged to share their story. Each recording will be conducted by CAPS Media producers and is expected to last 15-20 minutes. Selected stories will air on CAPS Television and CAPS Radio KPPQ 104.1 FM, and will stream on capsmedia.org. Visit capsmedia.org to find a convenient day and time to record your story and add it to the museum’s historic archive.

If you have photos or video to contribute to the legacy, CAPS Media has set up a simple process for the public to share recordings of the Thomas Fire for the historic project. Go to the CAPS Media website homepage (capsmedia.org) and click on the Read More arrow on the lower right corner of the Thomas Fires Stories image. The page presents more details on the project and step-by-step instructions on how to contribute photos, video and other media.

If you have a story to share, send an email to thomasfirestories@capsmedia.org or call the CAPS Media Center at 805.658.0500.

Season 3 of Mayor for a Moment is in full swing. The program is a collaboration with the City of Ventura, the Ventura Unified School District and CAPS Media. Each month an outstanding 5th grader is selected by the individual elementary schools. The “young mayor” is invited to gavel the start of a City Council meeting and present an essay on a leadership topic to the council and community. CAPS Media produces a profile on each young mayor that is shown at the council meeting and at the VUSD board meeting. Honorees thus far this school year are Braydon Rocco (Portola), Olivia Blomquist (Poinsettia), Allison Cabeza (Citrus Glen) and Isabella Coleman (Sunset). Congratulations to all the young mayors.

CAPS Media’s mission is to create an engaged and informed community through participation in electronic media. Join our community of enthusiastic engaged member/producers. To find out more come to orientation on the first Thursday of every month and learn how to become a member of CAPS. Member classes include HD videography/camera class held on the 2nd Thursday, Final Cut postproduction editing class on the 3rd Thursday, and CAPS Radio (KPPQ, FM 104.1) two-part classes this month on the 5th week. In every training session Member/Producers receive hands-on instruction in videography, video editing, radio production and more. All classes begin at 6pm at the CAPS Media Center, 65 Day Road. Once trained, member/producers may check out CAPS Media’s video cameras, tripods, audio gear and other production equipment to record their story and then book postproduction editing suites to craft the story they want to tell. Go to capsmedia.org for information or call 658-0500.

Lawsuit filed against Socal Edison

Southern California based Wildfire Legal Group filed a lawsuit against SoCal Edison on behalf of 287 victims of the Thomas Fire. The lawsuit alleges that Edison is liable for negligently starting the fire, due to poor maintenance of electrical infrastructure and the surrounding vegetation. It further seeks to hold Edison responsible for the resulting mudslides that occurred in the wake of the Thomas Fire. The plaintiffs include homeowners, renters, business owners, ranchers, as well as avocado and citrus farms.

The lawsuit, which is not a class action, seeks to recover losses that are not covered by insurance (e.g., cherished family heirlooms), or that are underinsured (e.g., limited coverage for construction rebuild). The suit also seeks to recover damages for emotional harm, and personal injuries suffered in the Thomas Fire, and subsequent mudslides.

Wildfire Legal Group is comprised of three Southern California wildfire litigation firms.

The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

For more information about the filing or the case in general, call attorney Elliot Adler at 265-0076, or email elliot@wildfirelegalgroup.com.

The Age of Consequences

Following the devastation of the Thomas Fires and the Montecito mud slides, many locals seek to educate themselves further about the present day status of climate change from trust-worthy sources. This effort presents such an opportunity.

On Sunday, March 4th at 3:00 – 5:30pm, The Age of Consequences written and directed by Jared P. Scott will be shown, free of charge, to the public. This film brings together a collection of footage from around the world along with the explanatory discussion of distinguished admirals, generals, military veterans, and other experts. Rear Admiral David W. Titley, United States Navy (Retired), a member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board and nationally known expert in the field of climate, the Arctic, and national security is one of several knowledgeable authorities featured in the film.

This film makes clear that, despite the President’s denial, climate change is not some distant problems but one of urgency and possibly of cascading disasters in a world that is deeply inter-connected. The up-side of this information is that, by increasing our awareness of the problem, we can better prepare. What better time to understand all of this than now as we face the opportunities of rebuilding our homes and lives following the devastation of the Thomas Fires?

This event is also sponsored by Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions (CPR), Veterans for Peace, Chapter 112, and the Climate Hub V.C.350.org. It will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church located at 5654 Ralston St. There is handicapped access. Discussions including solution oriented local efforts will follow the film.

Art festival supported fire-flood victims

The Ventura Unified School District Office was the site of the Thomas Arts Festival, an art auction and benefit featuring music and performing arts created to assist those rebuilding their lives as a result of the Thomas fires and flood. The event took place on Saturday, February 17.

The event showcased the creative work of local and surrounding artists that raised funds. Featured was a family art space for parents, care givers and children to come together and create art. Live performances by musicians and other performing artists occurred throughout the afternoon.

Moorpark’s Greg Gillis-Smith is a construction project manager, a former space mechanism engineer for NASA, and an unsung hero of the Thomas Fire. Greg started a Facebook group called Thomas Fire Info. The Facebook group grew to nearly 22,000 members.

Dozens of artists, musicians, photographers and performers lost their homes, their studios or both to the fires and floods. Other artists wanted to help, and Gillis-Smith was inspired to create the Thomas Arts Festival as a way to bring communities together in support of the arts.

He said “Our community is filled with artists expressing many art forms, yet hundreds of neighbors suffered tremendous loss due to the recent fires and flood. Many of these people do not fit in the constructs of society because they focus on creativity and helping others and therefore may not qualify for traditional assistance. I wanted to share my most heart-felt appreciation for all those who helped produce the Thomas Arts Festival, those who donated art and money, and all those who attended. This event could not have happened without everyone’s support. The greatest impact, though, may be the relationships and community we are creating through the production of the event.”

Ariel Palmieri, a Ventura County resident, real estate agent, wife and mother of school-aged kids was instrumental in organizing and publicizing the event. She has a background in PR and wanted to use that experience to raise awareness about the event.

She stated “During the fire and its aftermath, I wanted to help my friends, neighbors and others who suffered losses of their homes. I used my presence on social media and connections with business owners to create an in-home free boutique with clothing and other items so people could immediately restock their wardrobes. When Greg decided to create an arts festival, I wanted to use that same energy that was inspired by helping make life a little easier for those who suffered losses to produce and promote the Festival.”