Two days after one of California’s most devastating wildfires began raging through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties on Dec. 4, Procore sent its approximately 700 Carpinteria-based employees home from the office campus.
“We were in the voluntary zone” for evacuation status, says Doug Madey, director of communications for Procore. “We said, ‘OK, the campus is closed.’ The next step was to make sure everyone was safe.”
Some employees did get evacuated from their homes and “were working from wherever they could,” says Madey, who spoke to ENR on Dec. 14 while working in a Los Angeles location. Wearing masks to filter out the smoky air, employees also hosted lunch for some of the 8,450 firefighters battling the Thomas fire and checked on the campus buildings.
With the fire 50% contained as of Dec. 19, the Carpinteria-based staff returned to work, says Madey.
The fire has consumed almost 300,000 acres of land, destroyed more than 1,000 structures, damaged 250 more and caused the death of one firefighter. Another 18,000 structures are at risk. Officials remain concerned about expected renewed wind conditions that could prevent total containment until Jan. 8.
Eric Nielson, western U.S. executive vice president for Stantec, says the firm’s area offices were closed temporarily, too. “I’m relieved to report that our offices are open and our team members are safe,” he wrote in a Dec. 19 email. “Many of our clients, from private developers to municipalities, were deeply impacted by the fires, and our teams are mobilizing to support recovery efforts throughout the West Coast.”
A spokesperson for the California Dept. of Transportation says the agency sees some damage in a few areas but adds that it’s too early to give details, as they are still assessing the damage. For now, state Route 33 remains closed during the day so crews can clear out debris and set backfires to mitigate the main fire.
David Fleisch, director of transportation for the Ventura County Public Works agency, says officials have received no reports of fire- related damage or project delays. He says the Thomas fire was confined mostly to private property. The fire was so fast-moving, it went right through road areas without damaging guardrails, sign posts or any bridges, he adds. “The fire moved very rapidly. What we’ve seen is that the brush burned, but the trees are still standing with green leaves on them. Part of this is because the fire was moving so fast that it burned the underlying brush,” he notes.
Shortly after the Thomas fire broke out, a small fire ignited near the J. Paul Getty museum, which has fire-resistant features such as 1.2 million sq ft of travertine stone over reinforced concrete walls, crushed rock on the roofs and automatic fire doors. Sprinklers soaked the surrounding land with 1.2 million gallons of water, quenching the Skirball fire, officials told The New York Times.