The Ring of Fire
Ojai, 2017. Photo by Akka B
Living in the land of Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots, Lisa and I had many discussions about our emergency plan. Unfortunately, they all happened as we were escaping the fire that was rapidly circling Ojai. Our car was filled with two dogs, their beds, their toys, three of Lisa’s pillows, two days’ worth of clean clothes and a shockingly heavy garbage bag full of wet clothes that I had pulled mid-cycle from the washer. My pillows, our personal documents and family photos were back at the house, stored in a closet next to the paint thinner and old lithium batteries.
It seemed that the entire Ojai Valley was traveling in a caravan on the only open road out of town. Behind us, the Thomas fire was burning an acre a second. I spent the entire drive to the coast mentally calculating which one of us would make it there first.
When we reached the 101, we turned right and headed up to Solvang where a friend mentioned that there were still available hotel rooms. We checked in and went straight to the hotel bar. It was packed with Ojai people…our community. We hugged. We joked. We bought each other drinks. For a brief moment we forgot why we were there. And then, the phones starting buzzing. The updates from home were starting to trickle in. “All the houses on Tower Road were gone.” “Libbey Bowl was destroyed.” “Beatrice Wood’s home and Center for the Arts had burned.” “Ojai was surrounded by a ring of fire.” We didn’t know what was true and what was rumor. Eventually, everyone stopped talking. The only sound was the cacophony of the emergency broadcast warnings echoing through the phones. We left the room in silence and went to bed truly believing that our homes and businesses were gone...
Co-Founder of Beato Chocolates