Thomas Fire destroys entire apartment complex in downtown Ventura

Tuesday, December 05, 2017 01:54PM
The Hawaiian Village apartment complex in downtown Ventura was engulfed in flames amid the Thomas Fire.

VENTURA, Calif. - The massive Thomas Fire continued to engulf everything in its path Tuesday, even destroying an entire apartment complex in downtown Ventura.

The multi-story Hawaiian Village apartment complex was fully engulfed in flames by 4 a.m.

Firefighters tried to prevent the flames from swallowing up the complex. However, all of the apartment units were destroyed in the blaze.

PHOTOS: Thomas Fire burns in Ventura County

Samantha Wells-Zuniga, a resident of the complex, fled just in time and was forced to sit on the sidewalk and watch her home burn. She said she was with her 4-year-old grandson when the fire came out of nowhere.

Apartment complex in downtown Ventura destroyed by Thomas Fire

She said around 10 p.m. Monday, she thought she had plenty of time. But by midnight, the fire had reached her patio and quickly devoured everything in sight.

MORE: Evacuation orders, road closures for Thomas Fire in Ventura County

"We've been watching all these disasters on TV, you really don't think about when it happens to you, and what do you pack in that moment? I'm like throwing shoes and things that don't really matter," Wells-Zuniga said as she fought back tears. "I just wanted to get out of the house, so we just left basically with just the clothes on our back and the Christmas presents that we just shopped for."

Wells-Zuniga said the apartment complex is home to many elderly residents, and she was not certain if everyone got out safely.

Police and fire officials described it as an "all-hands-on-deck" situation, as they tried to save lives.

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