Local assistance center receives about 80 visits from Tick Fire victims

The County of Los Angeles hosts the Tck Fire Recovery Local Assistance Center at The Centre in Canyon Country Wednesday morning. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The local assistance center set up to help victims of the Tick Fire, which destroyed and damaged scores of homes, received an estimated 80 visits over the course of its five-day operations, Los Angeles County officials said Monday. 

From providing information on access to food to what to do after one’s home burned down, agencies with the county and city of Santa Clarita — who partnered to organize the temporary assistance center — kept busy helping affected families since opening on Wednesday, Oct. 30, and through its last day on Monday evening. 

“Overall, our count stands at right around 80 households that we’ve serviced at the center,” said Bryan La Sota, an emergency management program manager with the county. “That count includes people that came multiple times. Sometimes people would come back to get additional information because they had to go to work or pick up their kids.” 

The most popular services included replacements for driver’s licenses and car titles from the Department of Motor Vehicles, property tax relief from the county’s Office of the Assessor, building and safety guidance for properties from both the county and city, and hotel vouchers and stipends offered from nonprofits such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, said La Sota. 

The busiest days were on Wednesday and Saturday, according to the staff at the assistance center. 

“There are people that have started the recovery process and this (assistance center) was their final step and there were others that are just starting,” said La Sota. “You see (everything from) people who lost everything to people whose homes were untouched but need cleanup assistance.” 

On the center’s opening day, at least five families who lost their homes completely to the Tick Fire, which grew to more than 4,600 acres, stopped by to find out what steps to take next, including the Bugarin family of six, who managed to salvage only a flower pot and a ceramic tea kettle from their Tick Canyon Road home of 12 years. 

Canyon Country resident Carrol Uthe still has his home standing but flames reached his camper and boat. 

“My home didn’t but my boat and camper got burned. A lot of my trees got burned and pens from my animals, too,” Uthe said, adding that he was referred to the county’s Public Works Department for debris cleanup.

The temporary local assistance center was scheduled to close its doors Monday at 7 p.m., but La Sota said those still in need of assistance can dial 211, the county’s central phone line for information and referrals for all health and human services. 

“They’ll be able to access all the agencies and services that are here today and they speak multiple languages. They’re open 24 hours a day,” he said. 

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