LOCAL CALIFORNIA

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Ventura fire

Fire-related power outages leave Ventura residents scrambling

Carole Nolte wore a mask and scarf over her face because of the heavy smoke in downtown Ventura. (Cindy Carcamo / Los Angeles Times)
Carole Nolte wore a mask and scarf over her face because of the heavy smoke in downtown Ventura. (Cindy Carcamo / Los Angeles Times)

Carole Nolte, owner of Co.min.gle, a novelty shop on Main Street in Ventura, took refuge in her store Wednesday afternoon so she could charge her smartphone. She wasn’t open for business but took advantage of working electricity in her shop.

Her condo, a two-minute walk away, has been without power since Monday night, a couple of hours before she was forced to evacuate because of the Thomas fire. The blaze came within about 200 feet of her home, but the condo was left unscathed.

Since then, Nolte has been waiting for the electricity to be restored to her home. She’s unsure when that will be but is trying to make the most of it until then.

“I’m kind of sticking it out,” she said. 

Nolte planned to hold a dinner party at her store Wednesday for 10 of her friends in the same condominium complex. All were left without electricity and have become something of a support group for one another, she said. Nolte’s store has a working refrigerator, so that’s where she intends to store the food for the dinner.

Tuesday evening, the group of friends barbecued whatever food they could find. Nolte scoured a supermarket in town that also was without electricity, scoring still-cold rib-eye steaks. 

Wednesday afternoon, she unloaded bottles of water and coffee from her vehicle and placed them on the floor next to a Christmas tree and other holiday trinkets. She turned on a floor fan facing the door in an attempt to keep the smoke outside and away from her rugs and upholstered furniture inside. She opened the store just three months ago. 

The smoke wasn’t so bad earlier in the week. Wednesday was different. 

“It’s going to be a mask day,” she told herself when she woke up Wednesday morning. 

If the power doesn’t come back and the air quality remains the same, she may just leave the store and stay with family in Westlake Village.  

“There’s nothing to do here but breathe bad air,” Nolte said.

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