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'This town will never be the same' after fire, Ventura resident frets

'This town will never be the same' after fire, Ventura resident frets
Aerial image shows charred hillside and several homes destroyed by the Thomas fire in Ventura County. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Sarah Flynn woke up early Tuesday to someone knocking on her door. Her neighbor was going down their street urging people to evacuate.

"Time to get out," Flynn, 62, recalled her neighbor saying.

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The neighborhood had lost electricity around 10:30 p.m., Flynn said, but she wasn't worried because the Thomas fire was far away. She could see the flames, but they weren't so close that she could smell or see smoke.

However, after being alerted by her neighbor around 12:30 a.m., she got dressed, grabbed her keys and hopped in the car with her small dog, Shadow. She left in such a hurry that she forgot her phone charger.

Flynn said she tried to find a hotel in Camarillo, but many didn't have power. The ones that did were fully booked.

She ended up staying in her car, and only slept for an hour and a half.

Around 7 a.m., she stopped at a Carrow's restaurant for breakfast, but it was closed, she said, so she drove to the shelter at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

"It's nerve-racking, but the attitude here has been so nice that it's been calming," Flynn said.

She said she has no idea if her bungalow is still standing.

"It could be OK, but tonight that could change because of the wind," she said. "Not knowing if I have a place to live is very difficult. It's harrowing. But we're trying to go with the flow."

Flynn said she worries that the seaside town she loves won't recover.

"People have lost everything. Beautiful, multimillion-dollar homes," she said. "This town will never be the same."

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