Immediate help

As the largest wildfire in the state’s history, the Thomas Fire generated some staggering statistics. It burned 281,893 acres (440 square miles). At its most devastating, it was being fought by an army of firefighters more than 8,000 strong. More than 1,000 structures were destroyed. And the fire’s most-sobering statistic is the 23 fatalities – including one firefighter – which resulted from the fire and its associated debris flow. The statistics since then are much more hopeful.
The County of Ventura, in cooperation with the cities of Ventura, Santa Paula, Ojai and Fillmore, initiated a fire recovery process weeks before the fire was even declared contained. The Ventura County Recovers website was launched on December 10, 2017, six days after the fire started. Since then it has had more than 45,000 unique visitors and about 200,000 page views.
“We understood early on that there would be a tremendous need for fire recovery information, and that it would have to be a cooperative effort,” said Mike Powers, County Executive Officer. “The fire crossed many jurisdictional boundaries and our recovery process would have to do the same thing. The cities enthusiastically supported a unified approach and the result has been a streamlined, efficient and compassionate process.”
A Local Assistance Center was opened in Ventura on December 13. Staffed by more than 40 city, county, state, federal and non-profit agencies, it served 1,950 families while it was open. The center offered assistance with health issues, housing, vital records, debris removal, and much more. Smaller centers operated in Ojai and Santa Paula.
On December 26, the Board of Supervisors approved the County’s participation in the California Office of Emergency Services debris removal program. The no-cost program removes both hazardous materials and fire debris from homeowner’s property. The Environmental Health Division of the County’s Resource Management Agency has processed 665 Right-of-Entry forms for the program and is still accepting applications.
The property damage caused by the Thomas Fire was unprecedented in Ventura County, and the need for information was critical. The website helped, but the County and the cities wanted to be sure the public knew their local governments were active and engaged. As a result, 13 community town hall meetings were held at locations around the county, primarily to address debris removal concerns and now, federal assistance programs.
“We will continue to hold community meetings for as long as it takes to get information out to people,” said Matt Carroll, the County’s Fire Recovery Director. “The people who have been affected by the fire have suffered terrible losses, we want to make local government personal for them.”
As the recovery process goes on, the assistance numbers continue to grow. As of today:
• The Treasurer-Tax collector’s office has waived 180 late fees for fire victims and first responders.
• Emergency Medical Services has distributed 731,280 face masks.
• Behavioral Health made 4,000 contacts during the fire response.
• The County Clerk and Recorder’s office has provided assistance to 314 fire victims and provided copies of 694 public records at no cost.
• The County Public Works Agency has stockpiled and begun distribution of 45,000 sandbags and coordinated another 20,000 for the city of Ventura.
• 987 properties have been cleared of hazardous debris with only a handful of properties remaining.
• 665 properties have been registered for the state’s CalRecycle burn debris removal program.
• The County is working 181 active cases for fire victims needing housing. Thirty-three families have received assistance to date and eighteen have been permanently housed.
• The Assessor’s office has surveyed more than 2,000 fire-damaged properties.
The statistics are endless, almost every County agency and department has played a role in either the fire response or the recovery.
As a next step, the County’s Office of Emergency Services is finalizing detail flood debris flow models as well as tailored evacuation strategies and plans around all County burn areas. A public outreach and education campaign to share this information will begin with a series of town hall meetings beginning in February. Additionally, a homeowner’s erosion control seminar will also be held February 3rd in Ventura at the Poinsettia Pavilion on Foothill Road.
“The response to the Thomas Fire has shown what makes Ventura County so special,” said Powers. “Not only did all of our County agencies work together seamlessly, so did our city partners, our elected officials and the state and federal agencies who were here to help. Ventura County Recovers is not just a website, it’s a statement of fact.”

2-1-1 Ventura County: For information about recovery resources, dial 2-1-1, text your zip code to 898-211 or visit Live contact specialists available 24/7 to provide assistance.

Ready Ventura County: For regularly updated incident information call the public information line at 465-6650 or visit

Thomas Fire Help: Continuously updated community-based list of resources, visit

Financial assistance

FEMA Disaster Recovery Center: Offers assistance with disaster unemployment insurance, housing, small business, legal assistance and community housing loans.

Ventura County Credit Union, 6026 Telephone Road, Ventura, Monday-Wednesday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 9a.m.-1 p.m.

Stagecoach Station General Store, 12679 Ojai Road, Ojai, Saturday only, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Homeowners, Renters and Businesses 800-659-2955

SBA disaster loans are the primary source of money to pay for repair or replacement costs not fully covered by insurance or other compensation. Businesses of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair/replace disaster property damage. Small businesses, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations may also borrow to help meet disaster-caused working capital needs. The $2 million maximum applies to the combination of property damage and working capital loans. If you are a homeowner or renter, FEMA may refer you to SBA. SBA disaster loans are the primary source of money to pay for repair or replacement costs not fully covered by insurance or other compensation. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property, including vehicles. Apply online using SBA’s secure website at, call 800-659-2955 or email Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call 800-877-8339.

SBA offers federal low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, most private nonprofit farmers and ranchers: 928-9269. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency has opened a temporary satellite office to help farmers and ranchers apply for federal disaster recovery assistance. Applicants are asked to call the Santa Barbara FSA office at 928-9269 to schedule an appointment. Drop-ins welcome at 815 E.Santa Barbara St., Santa Paula, Thursdays, Jan. 25-Feb 22, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Property tax relief

The offices of the Treasurer-Tax Collector, Assessor and Auditor-Controller are working on a plan to streamline the application process for property tax relief due to damage caused by the Thomas Fire.

Sean Anderson, Ph. D., departmental chair of the Environmental Science and Resource Management Program at California State University, Channel Islands, explains the impact the Thomas Fire had on Ventura County’s ecosystem and wildlife. To watch the presentation, go here.

In some cases, penalties and fees on late payments will be waived for fire victims, but taxpayers are still encouraged to make full payments on their first installment. The County will adjust the tax bill on a future installment. Tax relief will be available for any type of property that is assessed by the County, including but not limited to, homes, commercial and industrial buildings, and mobile homes.

More information will be released on tax relief as the plan is developed. Fire victims can get a head start on the process by filing a calamity claim. Information and a claim form can be found on the Assessor’s website at htpp://

To learn more:

Steven Hintz, Treasurer-Tax Collector, (805) 654-3744

Dan Goodwin, Assessor, (805) 654-2181


Jeff Burgh, Auditor-Controller, (805) 654-3152

WEV resources

WEV’s ‘Quick Response Loans’  – If a business has been impacted by reduced sales or lost inventory due to the Thomas Fire or Mudslides, and could benefit from a cash flow boost of up to $10,000, contact WEV’s Loan Officer, Jaime Marks, at or (805) 232-3087 to discuss the process. Our goal is to have a decision within 24 hours of a completed application. Disaster Recovery Webpages in English and Spanish including information about SBA’s Disaster Recovery loans. Information Packets in English and Spanish (attached, and links to download in English and Spanish). Community Building Event on Monday 2/5 in Santa Barbara, ‘805 Strong: An Evening Honoring Entrepreneurs’ – FREE and open to anyone, includes business & resource expo and ceremony honoring local entrepreneurs. Small Business Recovery Workshops: Six dates in February in Santa Barbara and Ventura for small businesses to hear from WEV, EDC-VC, and SBA about disaster recovery resources (flyers in English and Spanish attached, also listed on our recovery webpages)

Resources for undocumented residents

805 UndocuFund is a joint effort of immigrant-serving organizations in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties to provide disaster relief to local immigrant families who are excluded from federal aid programs. Register your information at and you will be contacted once the fund is available.

Mexican nationals or those with dual citizenship: 855-463-6395, Mexican Consulate in Oxnard offers financial assistance and documentation replacement for Thomas Fire victims who are Mexican nationals, or those with dual citizenship. This assistance is available regardless of immigration status. Walk-ins welcome. Mexican Consulate is located at 3151 W. Fifth St., Oxnard.

State unemployment insurance benefits

If you are unemployed or had your hours/income reduced as a result of the Thomas Fire and/or Montecito Mudslide, apply for state unemployment insurance benefits here:

More information on Disaster Unemployment Assistance Benefits can be found here:

Housing, shelter and Food

Homeless Services: 385-1800. Anyone in need of housing information may leave a message. Calls will be returned.

The Winter Warming Shelter is open through March 31, at 1270 Arundell, Ventura

FOOD Share: 983-7100. For local food pantries and drives call 983-7100 or visit

Housing assistance: 385-8585 or visit to learn more eligibility criteria for potential assistance with rent, moving and storage costs, utilities and other housing services. Calls and emails will be returned. Include the following in your message: Name, phone number, number of people in your household, address of residence prior to wildfires, description of need for assistance.

Benefits and cash aid

Ventura County Human Services Agency accepts applications for CalFresh (food stamps), Medi-Cal (health insurance), CalWORKs (cash assistance) and General Relief for those who qualify. For a list of office locations and other information, go to:

Replace Medi-Cal BIC card: 888-472-4463 to connect to the Human Services Agency or visit an HSA Community Service Center.

Replace EBT card: 877-328-9677. To replace an EBT card lost or damaged in the fires, call EBT customer Service at 877-328-9677. They will stop use of your card and help you get a new card.

Dek//Income taxes extension

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) will have special tax relief for taxpayers impacted by Southern California wildfires, floods and mudslides that began in December 2017. Please visit: for more information.

Assistance for businesses:

EDC-VC Small Business Development Center 409-9159. Offers no-cost personal business advising services to assist small businesses impacted by the disaster. Services are free of charge and cover financial, accounting, marketing, strategic recovery planning and other post-disaster challenges. To speak to a service coordinator, visit

Counseling resources

California Lutheran University 493-3059: Offers free eight-week support group for families affected by Thomas Fire at CLU Counseling Center, 2200 Outlet Center Drive, suite 470, Oxnard, on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Children’s group is also available.

Kaiser Permanente: offering a free, drop-in eight-week support group to anyone finding it difficult to cope with feelings of trauma due to the Thomas Fire and mudslides at 1000 S. Hill Road, Ventura, on Thursdays, 5-6:30 p.m. Begins Feb. 1.

Legal Resources:

Fire Lawyers — Corey, Danko and Gibbs 410-1120 or helping victims rebuild their homes, business and communities.

Thomas Fire legal assistance hotline 765-9727: The hotline offers people impacted by the Thomas fires legal assistance related to: landlord-tenant issues, life/medical and property insurance, emergency aid application through FEMA, home repair contracts, mortgage foreclosure and replacement of important legal documents.

Ventura County Law Library, 800 S Victoria Ave., Ventura, every first and third Tuesday, 4-7 p.m.

Wildfire Legal Group: 222-6677 or : helping individuals and businesses recover losses from the fire that are not covered by insurance

Special populations assistance

Veterans: The County of Ventura Veteran Services and LA Regional Office are working to expedite PENDING veteran compensation, pension, survivor pension and DIC claims for those displaced by the Thomas Fire. Individuals should contact the CVSO at 477-5155 or 477-5480 or email

Autism Society of Ventura County: Autism Society of Ventura County, is offering assistance to people with autism spectrum and related disorders who have been affected by the Thomas Fire. Contact the ASVC resource hotline at 437-9856 or the Office at 496-1632.

Foster and birth families

Child Hope Services 419-6182

James Storehouse 499‐7161

Raising Hope 491-KIDZ(5439)

Children’s Services Auxiliary

Ventura County Foster Parent Association 285-3790

Kids and Families Together 654-1446

Older adults:

Senior Nutrition Program: 477-7311

Transportation: 477‐7300   


American Red Cross 987-1514

United Way of VC Thomas Fire Fund: Text UWVC to 41444

Interface Children and Family Services and 211 Ventura County: Text keyword 211VC to 898-211 or visit

Ventura County Community Disaster Relief Fund

805 UndocuFund: Write a check to the Ventura County Community Foundation with “Undocufund” in the memo or go to and write “Undocufund” as the fund name.

Thank You to 2-1-1 Ventura County supporters:

The County of Ventura, First 5 Ventura, United Way of Ventura County, Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, Ventura County Community Foundation and the cities of Camarillo, Ventura, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Port Hueneme, Moorpark, Ojai, Thousand Oaks, Santa Paula and Fillmore


VCReporter staff continues to contribute to the list, including updates from the county and the Ventura Land Trust.