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Natural disasters

‘The wind is apocalyptic’: one couple’s midnight flight from wildfires raging in California

  • The inferno started from two brush fires in Ventura County on Thursday and rapidly spread. More than 70,000 have been forced to evacuate
  • The fire is only a few miles from the Borderline Bar & Grill where a gunman shot and killed 12 people on Wednesday
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 November, 2018, 5:59pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 November, 2018, 6:37pm

British music producer David Tickle and his model fiancée Kate Elizabeth Hallam were awoken at 3am on Friday morning (California time) by a desperate knock on their window and a police loud speaker at their home in Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks.

The 59-year-old Tickle, who has worked with Prince, U2, 4 Non Blondes and Split Enz, and Hallam were ordered to evacuate immediately as raging brush fires that started the day before had reached their area in Ventura County in Southern California.

The people of Thousand Oaks had barely recovered from a deadly bar shooting that claimed 12 lives, including that of a police officer, before the “worst fire since 1982” spread in populated parts of the city forcing thousands into their cars in search of temporary accommodation or emergency shelters.

“We ran out on to the drive way and it was like a movie. The first was raging,” said Hallam, 34, an actor, model and bass player with the band Makela. “The winds are just so bad, 70 miles per hour, and they can’t get a handle on the fire with so far zero per cent containment on it.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, we can only pray all involved. The feelings and energy is very surreal. The wind is dramatic, it feels apocalyptic,” added Hallam, who said the couple had given up searching for a hotel after hours of driving around and decided to head to the nearest evacuation centre.

The inferno started from two brush fires in Ventura County on Thursday and rapidly spread. More than 70,000 have been forced to evacuate and, according to reports, a number of homes have been lost to the blaze.

The feelings and energy is very surreal. The wind is dramatic, it feels apocalyptic
Kate Elizabeth Hallam

“All the hotels were fully booked,” she said.

The fire is only a few miles from the Borderline Bar & Grill where a gunman suspected be former soldier Ian David Long shot and killed 12 people on Wednesday. Smoke from the fire could be seen from where mourners held a candlelit vigil for those who died in the shooting.

“Everybody is panicked and anxious with the unknown,” added Hallam. “Lives, animals, properties are all involved. Being told to evacuate literally on the spot with no time to plan or pack is quite stressful. I think after the shooting the day before, everyone is in a state of shock. The fire is literally so close to exploding into an area that is massively populated.”

On Wednesday, Long, used a smoke bomb and a handgun, opened fire during college night at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks.

Apart from 11 people in the bar, the suspect shot and killed sheriff’s sergeant Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the department who considered retiring within the next year.

The 28-year-old Long was a former machine-gunner and decorated combat veteran of the US Marines, according to sheriff’s officials. They said they believe Long fatally shot himself.