Retailers Close Shop & Residents Flee as California Wildfires Rage Across the State

Updated, Nov. 10: Two Ten Footwear Foundation is providing assistance to victims of the California fires. For more information, click here.

A week of tragedy and anxiety continues for California residents and businesses.

After a horrific shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks that ended in 12 deaths on Nov. 7, three major wildfires are raging up and down the state, destroying thousands of structures and forcing more than 150,000 people to flee for their lives.

California governor-elect Gavin Newsom this afternoon announced a state of emergency for the L.A. and Ventura counties, after the Hill and Woolsey brush fires began to spread quickly through the hills north of Los Angeles. The previous day, an emergency proclamation was issued for Butte County in Northern California, which is being ravaged by the Camp Fire that has so far resulted in five deaths.

In Southern California, mandatory evacuations began in the early hours of this morning, for cities including Westlake Village, Calabasas and Malibu, leading to the closure of businesses and a mass exodus along the Pacific Coast Highway to safety.

Woolsey Fire Malibu California
Firefighters battle a home on fire at the Malibu Lake community in Malibu, Calif.

A spokesperson for the Bed Stu brand, told FN, “We have a store in the Malibu Country Mart on the Pacific Coast Highway. I believe all stores have been closed in the mart. Our store is closed until further notice.”

At comfort retail chain The Walking Co., headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., PR manager Dinah Erasmus said the company has one store locally in Westlake Village, but no others are affected right now. “It has been a very hard 48 hours in this area,” she said, “from the mass shooting tragedy Wednesday night to the fire. We are now evacuated and offices are closed. Our thoughts are with the Thousand Oaks community, firefighters, law enforcement and neighbors during this time.”

Greg Thomsen, managing director for the Adidas Outdoor brand, told FN his family was evacuated from their home on Malibu’s Broad Beach early this morning. “It was really quick and there was not a lot of warning,” he said. “We live at the ocean and there are high winds that come off the hills and the fires generally burn down toward the ocean, so we’re right in the line of the fire.”

While Thomsen is currently in Denver at the Outdoor Retailer trade show, he said his wife was safely relocated to Newport Beach, but he has no updates on the state of his home or when he might return. “Once I leave here, I don’t know where I’ll go,” he said. “It all depends if there’s a home left to go to. If there is, I’ll go back home, but if not, it’s just stuff and I’m not connected to possessions.”

Woolsey Fire Malibu California
A home and vehicle sit smoldering after being destroyed by the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, Calif.

Fellow Adidas Outdoor exec Diane Kay also awoke in Denver to news that her neighborhood in Oak Park, Calif. (located 5 miles from Thousand Oaks), had been evacuated. “At one point, we had about eight or nine fire trucks in our cul-de-sac and just as the fire was about to hit they got called off. We were lucky. The Santa Ana winds blow so ferociously and the fire moves so quickly. It kind of came and went. So my home is fine. It burned right up to the property line.”

Over the course of today, the Woolsey fire has become particularly aggressive. It has more than tripled in size and engulfed roughly 14,000 acres, with zero containment. New evacuation orders continue to roll out from the L.A. Country Fire Department. Just before press time, officials expanded the orders east to include the Monte Nido and Topanga communities.

Giant smoke clouds billow into the sky from the Woolsey Fire in Agoura, Calif.

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