Wildfires endanger California senior living communities again

Share this content:
Wildfires endanger California senior living communities again
Wildfires endanger California senior living communities again

Wildfires came roaring back to California Monday, less than two months after senior living operators in the state encountered blazes that put in motion emergency response plans, damaged or destroyed communities and led to a lawsuit against one community.

This time, the fires were in the southern part of the state. Two fires in Los Angeles County covered more than 16,000 acres with little to no containment, caused power outages for thousands of utility customers, and closed roads and forced evacuations in some areas, according to the county fire department and media reports on Tuesday.

In Ventura County, a wildfire covered 50,000 acres and forced more than 27,000 people to evacuate, according to the Los Angeles Times. More than 260,000 people in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties were without power at one point, the newspaper said.

No injuries or deaths had been reported from any of the fires.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared states of emergencies for Ventura County due to the Thomas fire, which began Monday, and for Los Angeles County due to the Rye and Creek fires, which began Tuesday. Extreme weather conditions, including strong winds, have helped them spread, he added.

Oakmont Senior Living said it evacuated the assisted living and memory care residents of Oakmont of Santa Clarita to a local senior center as a precaution. Those who weren't staying with family or friends were being relocated Tuesday evening to Oakmont of Capriana in Brea, CA.

“At this time, all residents are safe and accounted for,” the company said Tuesday evening in a message on its website. Phone lines were down across the Santa Clarita, Oakmont said.

Oakmont of Santa Clarita sustained smoke damage, the company said. “The building is currently intact, but there have been ongoing flare-ups of fire in the landscaped areas,” Oakmont said. The company said it was preparing a timeline for reopening and was communicating with residents and family members via email updates and phone calls.

Holiday Retirement said it was preparing to evacuate The Bonaventure independent living community in Ventura, CA, if necessary.

“There is no mandatory evacuation at this time for the community,” the company posted Tuesday in an alert on its website. “However, we are encouraging residents with families located locally to voluntarily evacuate in the event a mandatory evacuation is issued.”

Holiday said all residents and employees were safe.

Brookdale Senior Living had not activated its alert webpage, nor had it evacuated any communities, as of Tuesday night.

“We are keeping an active watch on the situation and have plans in place should an evacuation be necessary,” a spokeswoman told McKnight's Senior Living.

October fires in the northern part of California destroyed almost 9,000 structures and were responsible for the deaths of 44 people, according to authorities.

The next month, four former residents of Villa Capri in Santa Rosa, CA, sued developer Oakmont Senior Living and manager Oakmont Management Group, maintaining that they were abandoned during an evacuation of the community. Villa Capri was destroyed in the fire.

Sign up for newsletters

In Focus

Dec. 6

Students of life

Milwaukee

Ovation Chai Point is providing room and board, as well as an open studio, to a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee art student as part of a university program that benefits everyone involved.