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Mark Battat

When the Woolsey Wildfire started on November 8, 2018 in the Westlake Village area of Ventura County I had no idea of where it would spread.

I kept watch of the fire most of the evening as it spread westwards towards the hills. By the time I woke up at 5am on November 9th the fire had spread over the hill towards the Malibu area. I have a client who has a beach house on the water in Malibu and I was concerned not only for the house but for their caretaker who lives on the property as my clients only use the house on the weekends. I called the caretaker at 6am to make sure he had prepared the house should the embers make their way to the house such as placing the outdoor furniture and umbrellas indoors, making sure the gutters were cleared of any debris, all the windows and fireplace flues were shut tight. I was also concerned about their next-door neighbor who has a compost heap which is an enormous fire hazard.

He was one step ahead of me – he had continually soaked the heap with water, he had already removed the outdoor furniture and anything else that could spark a fire from a flying ember. Furthermore he had gathered a crew of several able-bodied men, hoses and other items to stop any embers that approached not only my client’s property but the other houses surrounding them on a shared driveway. At this point in the conversation the Los Angeles television station announced that all of Malibu was on mandatory evacuation. When I relayed the news to him he was staunch in staying on the property. I made him promise me that he had two evacuation routes in case the smoke and embers became too much. I also checked in with him every few hours. Towards the late afternoon cell service went out in the Malibu area. I was very concerned so I called the owner’s family office representative who told me she would relay any news on the caretaker and the crew and sure enough at 7pm that night I received a text that the crew saved the houses and they were all ok. The next morning the caretaker called me at 7am to let me know he was fine and had run up to Oxnard for supplies including a couple of generators. They were showered with flying embers all afternoon and into the early evening but this crew of men saved everything around them and miraculously nobody had any damage.

We had more phone calls over the next few days but most of all he was grateful that I kept in touch with him.

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