VENTURA, Calif. - The Thomas Fire destroyed nearly 530 homes. Along with the hundreds of structures, apartment complexes were also demolished. Harbor View Villas on Kalorama Street in Ventura was one of those complexes.
Patricia Rye returned to the spot where she lived for the last 17 years, until the flames of the Thomas Fire took that away.
“This is the first time we have been allowed to drive up," said Rye. "We walked around the back and there is just nothing there.”
Jeannette Frescas has been the manager at the Harbor View apartments for 10 years. She said at first she wasn't concerned about the fire because before she went to bed it was in Santa Paula.
“At midnight I wake up with a flashlight in my face," said Frescas. "I looked out my window and there were flames that were surrounding us.”
Many of the residents were sleeping when the fire approached. Officials alarmed everyone to get out without any kind of previous notification.
“It was the scariest thing I have ever been through in my entire life,” said Frescas.
Half of the 90-unit complex at Harbor View Villas was destroyed. Sixty-five residents are now without a home, including Rye who woke up in the middle of the night to her son-in-law pounding on the door to get out.
“I didn’t have time to take anything," said Rye. "My wallet, or any of my personal things. I literally left with the clothes on my back. If I had been thinking I would of got into my car, but I wasn’t thinking so my car was there. I don’t have rental insurance because when I moved in here it wasn’t something you had to do.”
Many residents living here didn’t have renters insurance, but Frescas says despite the huge loss, there’s more to be grateful for.
“I am so grateful that none of my residents were injured," said Frescas. "All of them were able to get out in time, although it was very close and it was very scary we are very grateful. I just want to reach out and hug them and tell them how happy I am that we are still alive.”
The apartment complex is giving back to their tenants. They will hold a party at the Discovery in Ventura on Sunday starting at noon to help bring new beginnings to the ones who lost their little paradise in Ventura.
“We want them to enjoy the day and celebrate life that we made it out ok," said Frescas.