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Fire Disaster

Los Angeles
Fire Disaster

Now that the worst is over at the Camarillo Springs fire(more than 24,000 acres burned), we checked in with a couple of CRE leaders to see how they and their offices were affected.


Lee & Associates LA North/Ventura principal Gary Cohen, wife Amy, and their three kids live in one of the evacuation areas. "I was out in the field on an appointment and got a call to come home right away." Gary tried to come up the back way, but that was closed off and he got re-routed to the freeway, which was moving at a crawl. What should have been 15 minutes to get home took a couple of hours. Meanwhile, Amy had picked up the kids from school and gotten valuables and photo albums out of the house, and Gary met up with them in a safe area. "Everybody was OK," he says.


Gary says he went back to the house and gathered a few more things;when the fire got to the hill behind his neighbor's house, it was time to leave.The fire department was all over the area and helicopters were conducting water drops.


Gary with son Daniel on a hike, pre-fire--behind them is Dos Vientos, one of the fire's hot spots. The fire broke out on a Thursday, and the family spent that night at a hotel. Despite all that was happening, Gary tried to do as much business as he could during the day with his cell phone and iPad. In addition, "We made sure to keep the kids calm and not let them get too alarmed or scared." He even moved a couple of deals forward on Thursday.


Although the experience was scary and disruptive to business, "we still managed to take care of all of our clients" (including one whose 9,500 SF industrial building in Camarillo was in escrow--the flames got close, but the building was OK). Gary says he's grateful for the efforts and professionalism of the firefighters, many of whom came from great distances to help. That also goes for the local hotels that provided special rates to evacuees and let them bring their pets.

We also chatted with CBRE Venture County & LA North Region senior managing director Natalie Bazarevitsch (whom we snapped at the brokerage firm's symposium and forecast earlier this year). She oversees two offices in the region, including one in Camarillo. She happened to be driving to the Camarillo office when the fires were getting under way, and notes it was a hot and windy day. After arriving at the office, the first order of business was to make sure that everybody was accounted for, including agents in the field. "They're driving around in the market showing space." The main concern was that they not be in a position that would jeopardize their safety.


Folks in CBRE's Camarillo office could see the fire and smoke across the freeway. The wind pattern had started to shift the smoke awayfrom them, butthey worried it might double back.Ironically, the fires broke out just as the company had begun emergency testing and preparedness for its US and Canadian offices. Natalie says the testing not only reinforces the firm's emergency systems, but also reminds people to be cognizant of their preparedness at home.


The good news is that only one professional in the Camarillo office was affected to any extent. John La Spada had a car in storage not far from the fires. He took this pic with his iPhone as he was retrieving the vehicle.

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