Reported by Michael Patterson
Just over two months ago; many parts of Ventura County, such as The Ojai Valley became engulfed in flames by The Thomas Fire. The largest wildfire in California’s recorded history.
On a hill overlooking Downtown Ventura is Grant Park. The park offers clear views of the Ventura Pier Beach and heart of Ventura County. Due to the effects of the fire, the park has been closed to road traffic.
According to Cal Fire, over 281 thousand acres of land was burned as a result of the fire. Much of that land being hillsides, such as this one in Grant Park.
A burnt tree on the Grant Park hillside shows just how close the fire was to reaching Downtown Ventura. Less than 100 yards stood between the fire and the city below.
This cactus is one of many plant species that has struggled to come back from the fire’s devastating impact.
A bit deeper into Ventura County sits The Ojai Valley, an area almost surrounded by mountains and was heavily affected by the fire.
As the fire began, some residents of the valley organized free relief centers offering aid such as clothes, legal services and fresh water.
This parking lot on the side of the Stagecoach Station market is the site of one such relief center. The lot was a staging center for firefighters as they battled the blaze. As the fire became contained, the lot was converted into the location of the non-profit Upper Ojai Relief.
A board listing services and information that victims of the fire can use to help recover. One posting on the board is a list titled: “Homesharing”, that lists members of the community that have openings in their houses for those who no longer have their own.
One of three storage lockers that house various items that residents of the valley may take. The lockers were donated by the Portable On Demand Storage Company (PODS) to assist with aid. This locker holds various kitchen appliances.
One of many signs expressing gratitude for the support that the community has received in the two months following the fire.
This star, donated by Stars of HOPE reminds residents to keep faith that the community will recover. The largest wildfire in California’s recorded history burned much of the county, but many residents are in high spirits and have begun the process of rebuilding their communities.
The environment has also begun rebuilding. A small weed is just the first step in making the vast hillsides green again.