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Easy fire cost Reagan Library $500,000, including destroyed banners and olive trees

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President Reagan’s Air Force One overlooks the Easy fire as it burns along the hills of Simi Valley outside the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Oct. 30.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Last month’s Easy fire in Simi Valley cost the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum nearly half a million dollars after the flames chewed through olive trees, presidential banners and an internet and cable box that took down the library’s network, officials said.

The fire licked the perimeter of the 125,000-square-foot site, inching its way precariously close to the glass enclosure that houses President Reagan’s Air Force One plane. The blaze, fed by winds of 60 mph, didn’t touch the building, but it did char the land surrounding it.

“Nothing on the actual campus itself was burned or was damaged,” spokesperson Melissa Giller said. “But a lot of damage was done on the hillside, including Presidential Drive.”

The most expensive loss was the library’s cable and internet box, affecting every computer system in the library, including its cash registers. It cost $100,000 to get the network running again, Giller said.

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The most visible destruction occurred along the road leading to the library and its surrounding landscape. Three banners attached to light poles were destroyed in the fire. The dual-sided flags displayed images of the U.S. Navy and presidents Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, Barack Obama, Chester Arthur and George H.W. Bush.

Times staff photographer Wally Skalij has covered many wildfires for the paper. On Monday, he went to Simi Valley for the Easy fire, where he got a notable shot.

Five other banners had previously been ripped apart by Santa Ana winds. The displays are expected to be replaced by Dec. 1, Giller said.

The library’s landscaping will also be expensive to replace. The grounds held several olive trees, which cost hundreds of dollars. The site will likely replace the trees that were destroyed with a different species.

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In all, the damage will cost the library roughly $500,000, Giller said.

The Easy fire ultimately burned more than 1,800 acres over the course of four days and forced roughly 26,000 residents to flee from Simi Valley, Moorpark and Thousand Oaks. At the fire’s height, nearly 7,000 homes were in harm’s way.

Simi Valley police directed residents to leave the neighborhood behind the library, which proved to be a comfort for those escaping the blaze.

“One thing is sure,” resident Rory Kaplan said, “they aren’t going to let Reagan’s library burn — and that protects us.”


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