Ventura County firefighters are a dedicated bunch.
Once again, they made their point, proving over Christmas weekend that their ability to fight fires and protect private property are unmatched on the Central Coast.
The so-called Solimar Fire broke out early in the morning of Dec. 26 and quickly jumped Highway 101, threatening beachside enclaves.
The highway was closed and some 600 firefighters, including help from across Southern California, arrived at the scene. What could have been a devastating fire was contained enough that within hours the 101 was reopened.
By Dec. 27, residents who had been evacuated had returned home.
Ventura County is big, its population is widely dispersed and it contains a number of landmarks, including, of course, the Ronald Reagan Library & Presidential Museum.
Over the years, fire has visited the 101 corridor all too often — with sometimes devastating effect.
This time, perhaps because tinder-dry conditions and El Nino preparation had them ready to jump, the first responders on the scene were able to quickly assess the situation, call in needed reinforcements and get things under control.
Thankfully, the only injuries were to a pair of firefighters, and those, mercifully, were not life threatening.
The victims of the Tea Fire in Santa Barbara or the La Conchita mudslide or the earthquake near Paso Robles will tell you it doesn’t always turn out that way.
This time was different — and the firefighters of Ventura County can be proud of their work in sizing up, directing and then containing the Solimar Fire.
Close call for Chouinard
Patagonia founder and owner Yvon Chouinard had a narrow escape of his own this month.
According to reports, the owner of the legendary Ventura apparel company was in a group of six kayakers who were out for a leisurely row across General Carrerra Lake in Chile when they encountered a freak storm. The rough weather triggered “strong” waves and the six kayaks capsized.
Three boaters, including Chouinard and his wife, were quickly rescued, treated at a local hospital and released.
Tragically, one of the kayakers, North Face Founder Douglas Thompkins, died of severe hypothermia after he fell into the freezing water.
Chouinard has been characteristically tight lipped about his brush with death. The incident happened in a part of the world where he’s worked hard at preservation of natural habitats.
His company is named after an area that straddles the Chile-Argentina border.
His narrow escape means that now he lives to build an even bigger brand.