Still Reeling From A Mass Shooting, Thousand Oaks Residents Evacuate In The Face Of Horrific Fire

Firefighters look on as a fire moves towards a house in Thousand Oaks
Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Days after a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill devastated the community of Thousand Oaks, California, residents have been forced to evacuate as fires threaten the town. According to USA Today, as people began to mourn the loss of friends and loved ones, flames came roaring at the community and officials began issuing mandatory evacuation orders.

Judy Goodman was a frequenter of the country music club and was devastated to hear that so many lives had been lost in the senseless act of violence. Before she could come to terms with her grief, heavy winds pushed the fire towards her home and a tree branch crashed through her roof.

“I just wonder what’s next,” Goodman said. “There’s so much chaos in the world.”

All told, 95,000 people have been forced to leave their homes because of the Woolsey and Hill fires.

Thousand Oaks mayor Rob McCoy has spent the past few days visiting those impacted by the shooting. His family was forced to evacuate from their home on Thursday even as he prepared to hold a vigil for the lives lost. Now, he is spending his time helping those being housed in evacuation centers as well as those still reeling from the violence.

“I could see it on the faces of folks, they were tired. The one thing I noticed with everybody is they were pulling together,” he said. “We’ve been visited by absolute misery in the last couple of days. The sense of community is even stronger.”

The wildfires have sped through Ventura County, displacing not only residents but people staying in hotels, including FBI agents in town to investigate the mass shooting.

One person said that the only way to process the onslaught of disaster is to set emotions aside until you can deal with them. “Because it’s an emergency, you have to suck it up and do what you can, and you put your emotions on a shelf a little bit to process later,” said pastor Lonnie Schrader. “I don’t know what in the world is going on.”

On the other hand, Pastor Shawn Thorton has found solace in turning to others, and advises people to do the same. “Don’t get trapped in isolation,” he said. “Talk to a friend, talk to a neighbor, scream to the sky, whatever you need to do… This feeling is very real but it won’t always be here.”

A state of emergency has been declared in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, and 20,000 people are without electricity because of the fire. Over 150 homes have been destroyed and at least two people have died in the Southern California fires.