‘I Woke Up Because of the Smoke in My Room,’ Ventura County Residents Evacuate Homes Threatened by Woolsey Fire

Auerliano Ruelas, having a hard time to breathe, was sitting in his van with his dog TJ.

Ruelas, an older man, and TJ escaped the flames of the Woolsey Fire and drove away seeking safety.

TJ shakes and cries as his owner pets him to calm him down after rushing out of their home.

“I woke up because of the smoke in my room,” he said. “As soon as I got to my living room, the fire was already on the windows.”

They were only two of the several people affected by the Woolsey Fire that broke out Thursday afternoon amid warm and gusty winds.

Approximately 30,000 homes were threatened by the fire and some have already been destroyed.

“I have nowhere to go, I’m just going to stand here,” said Oak Park resident Michael Graham. “I called the landlord that owns the property and he's aware of what’s going on now.”

Families began packing valuables as soon as they began receiving alerts on their phones and saw updates on television.

“Just like you see on tv, all the wildfires you’ve seen happening in California are now happening to me,” said Graham.

Some families packed and drove to a local restaurant to seek refuge from the flames. They grabbed important papers, photos with emotional value and left their homes.

“I think a lot of people should realize this is what your valuable life leads to,” said a man from Ventura County as he pointed at his truck, “plastic bags on the back of your pick-up truck.”

Many residents saw the flames from their homes, mountains hills and as they were pulling out of their driveway.

A couple, Maffe and Erin Brown said “the embers were coming onto our driveway, so we drove and waited out and after an hour we made our way back to check on our home and our neighbors.”

Brown said they were scared, as were many other people, but he thanks firefighters and said “without you guys, I don’t know how this would’ve turned out.”

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