Fueled by the hot and dangerous Santa Ana winds, the Tick Fire exploded last Thursday afternoon – growing to thousands of acres in just a couple of hours. The massive smoke plume towered over the entire Santa Clarita Valley as residents on the eastern edge of Canyon Country fled their homes as a massive wall of flames approached.
More than 40,000 of our neighbors were forced to evacuate to friends’ homes, the Red Cross shelter at College of the Canyons and some even set up camp in grocery store parking lots. They watched the news and monitored social media to find out if their houses were still standing, and for several of our residents, they watched the video in terror, as burning embers swept onto roofs and sent their homes up in flames.
Our firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers worked around the clock to contain the fire, evacuate those in danger and make sure that our roads were safe to travel. Neighbors reached out offering help, a place to stay, a truck to evacuate valuables, they brought food to the firefighters sleeping on the grass at Central Park and much-needed supplies to the evacuees at the shelter. They shared photos of lost pets, started GoFundMe pages for those who lost everything and they placed posters in the front yards of their neighbors’ homes that were destroyed, with messages of love and support.
These expressions of encouragement demonstrate the tight-knit, community-oriented city that we are all proud to call home. Now we will stand with our neighbors and help them recover and rebuild. The Tick Fire Recovery website, at www.lacounty.gov/recovery, is the place for residents to get the information and resources they need. On this page, they can find links with information on how to replace personal documents, learn about the process of rebuilding, find out how to repair their swimming pools after fire, get the mental health support they need and much more.
This morning, Wednesday, Oct. 30, the Local Assistance Center opens at 10 a.m. at The Centre, 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway. It will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Monday, Nov. 4. At the Local Assistance Center residents can get insurance questions answered, find tax relief support, get crisis counseling services, obtain ash/soot cleanup tips, find shelter for pets, get info on debris removal, building protection and much more.
I encourage all of you to continue to support your neighbors and our community as we make our way through the recovery process together. When you see our local firefighters and public safety officials out and about, take a moment and say thank you. Many of them were on the front lines all weekend while their own homes were evacuated. We thank our first responders for their dedication, perseverance and determination to protect our city of Santa Clarita.
Bob Kellar is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].