Amgen Employees Evacuated From Thousand Oaks Facility
The four wildfires in Southern California are affecting tens of thousands of people. The first of the four fires, called the Thomas Fire that began north of Santa Paula, Calif., has burned at least 50,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of buildings. For that fire alone, about 27,000 people have been evacuated.
Another, smaller fire, called the Runner Fire, resulted in several Ventura County-based companies, including Amgen, to evacuate as well. The Runner Fire burned through a canyon near Rancho Conejo Boulevard and Conejo Spectrum Street in Newbury Park.
The Ventura County Fire Department’s initial response included two helicopters, two fixed-wing planes, two hand crews and eight fire engines. Crews cut brush to create a defensible perimeter around the fire and helicopter water drops worked to keep the fire from spreading.
Ventura County Fire Department Chief Ted Smith told the Thousand Oaks Acorn, “With these heavy winds, there was the potential of it spreading to Hill Canyon.”
He referred to a deep, undeveloped canyon that runs through both the Conejo Canyons Open Space and Arroyo Conejo Nature Preserve. Trails from them connect to Wildwood Regional Park, the Rancho Conejo Playfields and the Santa Rosa Valley.
Other businesses in the area, including Sage Publishing and Maxon, evacuated their staffers. However, according to the Acorn, not all Amgen staffers were evacuated. Research-and-development laboratory personnel were asked to stay.
Other fires were in Los Angeles County, which burned more than 11,000 acres and 30-plus structures, one in San Bernardino County, which burned 100 acres and injured three people, and another near Santa Clarita, which burned at least 5,000 acres and led to the evacuation of several schools and a trailer park.
“You look at your window and see flames, you know you have to go,” said Anne Forsyth to The New York Times, an administrator at Thomas Aquinas College, less than three miles from the Ventura County fire. “The speed with which this spread, I’ve never seen that before. I don’t think anyone here has seen that before.”
California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency. “This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we’ll continue to attack it with all we’ve got,” Brown said in a statement. “It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”
Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, indicated the weather report for the next five days was probably going to worsen the fires. The forecast through at least Thursday calls for dry conditions and high winds. “It’s a very difficult moment, but we will get through this,” Garcetti told The New York Times. “We are a resilient city, we are a strong city, we are a capable city.”
Approximately 186,000 people lost power in Ventura County on Tuesday, exacerbating the firefighting. About 800 firefighters and 200 police officer in Los Angeles County were responding to the Creek Fire.
The New York Times writes, “Daryl L. Osby, the county’s fire chief, said that the Creek Fire had been reported overnight, as his department was busy fighting the fire in Ventura. He said it was extreme and erratic ‘in ways that people may not have experienced in the past,’ adding that five years of a continuing drought and unpredictable winds, with gusts up to 70 miles an hour, were partly to blame. ‘We are in an extreme firefight right now, trying to protect lives and save property,’ he said.”