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Hill and Woolsey Fires force thousands to evacuate; some head to Central Coast

Like so many of those dealing with the raging wildfires in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, Laura Reynolds feels like her head is spinning.

“This has been the craziest 24 hours of my entire life,” Reynolds said. “It’s been a whirlwind. I haven’t slept at all. I’m just starting to eat because the adrenaline is out of my body.”

With the fast-moving Woolsey Fire bearing down on her Malibu home, Laura, her cat and her 97-year-old grandmother hit the road Friday morning. They only brought bare essentials with them.

“When you look in your closet and you think ‘what am I going to save?’ It’s kind of weird, because you realize ‘I don’t need any of this stuff,’ said Reynolds, who is now with her grandmother and cat staying with family in Solvang.

Joining them is family friend Nathan Greiner, who was forced to leave his ranch in the Hidden Valley area early Friday morning after the fire moved closer. Nathan drove his horses up to Solvang and out of danger, something that was a new experience for him.

“Just had to load horses and go,” Greiner said. “This fire definitely was one that opened my eyes up to what a natural disaster of this proportion could do.”

Laura’s office has been destroyed and her house could be next. But she’s thankful for what she has.

“At this point, we’ve already mourned the loss of the house,” she said. “If it’s there [after the fire], it’s just winning the lottery.”

She says her positivity comes from now staying in a place she knows is safe, and from seeing neighbors and strangers be there for each other during a heartbreaking week for the area after the fires and Wednesday’s mass shooting in Thousand Oaks.

“Watching everybody come together and help each other in these really big moments just kind of instills your hope in humanity,” Reynolds said.

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