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Fire badly damages Ventura hospital: ‘I burst into tears’

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Burned, melted toys on the campus of Vista Del Mar Hospital
(Matt Hamilton/Los Angeles Times)

At least two buildings on the campus of Vista Del Mar Hospital burned down as the Thomas fire ravaged the canyons above Ventura.

The hospital treats adolescents and adults with mental health issues, and among its specialties is treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Patients were evacuated and by Tuesday morning, two buildings were completely destroyed by flames, with the rubble of stucco walls and clay roofs smoldering under the smoky sky.

MORE: Southern California fires live updates »

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“We’re devastated to see the hospital burned,” said Sandy Case, 75, who lives next door. Her husband, Roger Case, sits on the advisory board of Vista Del Mar.

When Case and her husband were packing up their home and evacuating late Monday, they saw patients being escorted to cars by hospital staff. The Case family’s home — a white colonial estate built in 1915 — was spared, although their Coronado 15 sailboat was partly melted by the flames.

“I burst into tears,” Sandy Case said when she returned to their home early Tuesday. She saw her home standing, but the hospital destroyed. “It broke my heart.”

“There’s a huge need for this facility,” said Roger Case, 76, explaining that it welcomes patients from Fresno to the San Fernando Valley.

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In addition to serving about 80 patients at a time, the facility also employs about 230 people.

“There are all these people who are now unemployed,” Roger Case said.

There was some good news: Roger Case said the hospital’s CEO told him via text message that the wrecked facilities would be rebuilt.


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