Utahns worried about friends in SoCal fires


SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) –  Monday night Bruce Mason got a knock on the door and was told to evacuate. He lives in the town of Ojai, near Ventura California where fires have forced thousands to evacuate.

Mason said the community sits in a valley and the fire was cresting over the mountainside.  He left in his pajamas.

“The fire came very close and when I say very close, I mean very close.” 

He moved in with a friend, Lila Francese.  She has friend living in Utah.  But again they were evacuated and settled on a hotel in Santa Barbara.  Mason’s on the road again.

“We’re driving down to Palm Springs,” Mason said.  “It’s a mandatory evacuation.  We were in Santa Barbara but the air is poisonous down there.”

James Waldrop is from the area. He now lives in Utah.  But he’s worried for his friends.

They’ve sent him pictures of his old neighborhood.  He feels helpless.

“This is my hometown, these are people I grew up with, that I worked with, that I lived around,” Waldrop said.  “It’s really devastating to me.  There’s nothing that I can do.”

Monday night, trucker Joe Alvarez and his wife were on the highway near Ventura.
On the same highway, he said cars and trucks were on fire.  The winds were 75 miles-an-hour and he said it got dicey.

“The smoke was so heavy and thick, it was like driving in a fog,” said Lopez.  “The cab of my truck was completely filled with smoke.”

He said it normally is a five-hour drive from Southern California to Las Vegas.  But it took him eleven hours that night.

Meanwhile, Mason and friends were on the road to Palm Springs when ABC4 interviewed them. He said despite their situation, he’s remaining positive and grateful.

“It’s very stressful but I’m with good friends and there’s a whole group of us that we keep running into so it’s good company and it’s very, very helpful,” said Mason.

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