All images above courtesy of Captain Doug Miser, Ventura City Fire Department.
Donna, Mary Osborne and a few friends were sitting at the bar of My Florist, an elegant little eatery in Ventura, which had a surf film playing on big LCD’s. Mary and I were discussing her boyfriend, Ventura Fire Captain Doug Miser, and how she had a bad feeling about him the prior day as he and others from our town had been initial respondents in the Jesusita Fire. Turns out that the crew had some tense moments in and around the time that we were both sort of stressing about them. Later that day Doug had sent some imagery from the fire line and let Mary know that he was okay but for awhile that day, they were not.
My phone rang and on the line was Shawn Alladio. Paul Schulte a pal of ours was being evacuated and his neighborhood was aflame. He said that things had worsened.
An hour later I was Northbound on the 101, full moon beaming as it sailed through a clear sky. My camera kit was tucked into the hatch of my MS 3 as we purred upcoast towards Santa Barbara. I wanted a better idea of the topography of the event that seemed poised to take out so much of the lives of my innumerable friends and family.
From the highway in Montecito I could see a red snake writhing on the mountainside above the town, working it’s way towards Cold Springs Canyon. Not good, but not imminently disastrous. As I exited the Fwy I drove a grid that took me all over the city for a couple hours. Dense smoke and ashes in varying degrees floated everywhere. As I drove out to the western edge of SB the ambient air temp rose from 68 to 78 degrees. Fire.
Law Enforcement poured off the freeway continually as outlying cities supplied reinforcements. The areas below the fire line were being evacuated.
I did not ever stop and take my camera out. I saw nothing I felt compelled to document. As the mountains, hillsides and homes wept flame and smoke I knew what would lay in the ashes of the town when it was eventually at rest again.
Sleep did not come easily to me at 4am. On my couch lay Aaron Marcellino who was helping me with a film project, and in our guest room, my sister and her husband. They had left SB, homes evacuated and smoke density being just too much to tolerate, as the Jesusita Fire occupied the town.
A note arrived from Tony Luna. A pal of ours Grandmother had lost all, in her home in Mission Canyon. There it was, in essence. How does one fix that? When the retired elderly, living out the last of their days lose their lifeline?
I don’t know. And my lack of an answer is really disturbing to me.
The imagery below is Santa Barbara, in better days. Click on any of the images for a larger view and a back story. Truly a remarkable place. Birthplace of my sons, home of my friends and a community forged in social responsibility.