From the Ventura Fire Department
“On December 28, at 10:50am, fire units were dispatched to a reported ocean rescue with multiple victims in the water. Firefighters arrived and located two surfers in distress with State Lifeguards initiating a rescue.”
“While on scene a large wave approached the brick wall at the end of Seaward Avenue, overtopping the wall and injuring multiple people on scene.”
“Firefighters quickly conducted an assessment and found nine victims needing treatment and transportation to the emergency room. Due to the number of injured individuals, a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) was declared. While responding to the MCI, a state lifeguard went missing with a victim in the water, and a “mayday” was declared to rescue the swimmer and victim.”
“As firefighters were handling the rescue, they also received a report of smoke from a commercial building on Seaward. Other units on scene worked to address that incident simultaneously. that was also handled with units on scene. “
“The Ventura Fire Department urges the public to head warnings from public safety officials, obey posted signage, and stay out of coastal areas if possible.”
The incident happened as locals were being warned about a massive swell pounding the Southern California coastline.
The rogue waves submerged bystanders at Pierpont Beach on Seaward Ave. That area has been hit the hardest with what the National Weather Service called “tremendous wave energy.”
Beachgoers were seen frantically running for their lives. The raging waters destroyed the windows of nearby beachfront buildings and hotels on its destructive path.
Nine people were rescued by San Pedro St. and Seaward Ave . with no life-threatening injuries reported. The injured were taken to hospitals in Ventura and Santa Barbara.
Pylons were knocked loose from under the pier. The pier has been closed for nearly a year from damage sustained in storms but had been to set to reopen as early as March, The city will now have to survey damage done by the high surf and reassess the timetable.
Waves crashed in Ventura at heights between 9 and 15 feet with sets up to 18 feet, said Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. ‘There’s pretty big surf coming through the (Santa Barbara) channel,’ she said. “The swells are churning up because of a storm system over the Pacific.”
Lifeguards had been on rescues much of the day and that work continued Thursday afternoon, she said. The agency had made a decision to close some of its beachside campgrounds ahead of the storm surge.
Despite the warnings, visitors kept hanging out at the beach and entering the ocean, authorities said. When emergency personnel weren’t dealing with people on land, they were rescuing surfers and swimmers who had unsuccessfully tried to challenge the dangerous waves.