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LA opens help center for those impacted by Skirball, Rye, Creek fires

A firefighter sprays water on a burning home in the wealthy Bel-Air neighborhood during the Skirball Fire in this December 6, 2017 file photo.
A firefighter sprays water on a burning home in the wealthy Bel-Air neighborhood during the Skirball Fire in this December 6, 2017 file photo.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Los Angeles city and county officials have launched an assistance center for residents displaced or otherwise impacted by the Creek, Skirball and Rye fires, which have collectively burned more than 22,000 acres across the region for a week.

The L.A. Fires Local Assistance Center was scheduled to open at noon Tuesday and remain in service through Saturday.

Officials intend the center to be "a one-stop shop" for residents and business owners to obtain information and assistance from government agencies, utilities and aid groups, according to a statement from the L.A. Emergency Management Department.

Richard Thompson, 82, along with his wife and son, came to the assistance center to see if they could find help with housing. They’ve been crashing at Thompson’s grandson’s place since the house they rented on Little Tugunga Canyon Road in Lake View Terrace burned down last week in the Creek Fire.

“He put us on the bed and he says, ‘We’ll sleep on the floor,’” Thompson recalled. "We feel kinda guilty.” 

Richard Thompson (left) prepares to file a damages report at the local assistance center set up by Los Angeles city and county to assist victims of the Creek, Rye and Skirball fires. Some 60 homes, including his, burned down in the fires.
Richard Thompson (left) prepares to file a damages report at the local assistance center set up by Los Angeles city and county to assist victims of the Creek, Rye and Skirball fires. Some 60 homes, including his, burned down in the fires.
Jill Replogle

Thompson’s first stop at the assistance center was to file a damages report. The reports help local officials estimate the need for disaster relief from the state and federal governments. 

He also planned to meet with onsite representatives of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to cancel services. 

The 30-some public agencies and nonprofit groups at the fire assistance center include those offering help for veterans and the elderly.

Two massage therapists, Auxy Herrera and Isola Reyes, showed up to give people free massages. 

"We just been watching so much news and it's so sad, we thought, 'Let's just go give people some relaxation,'" Herrera said.

LA Fire Services Center

Lenora Lee was there looking for help for her 81-year-old neighbor, whose house needed cleaning after being filled up with ash and soot from the Creek Fire. 

She was directed to a local center for senior citizens. 

“It’s a start,” she said. “We gotta do something."

Other services at the fire assistance center include:

The Skirball Fire, which started early last Wednesday in the Sepulveda Pass, forced a full closure of the 405 Freeway and quickly spread into the ritzy neighborhood of Bel Air. The fire burned 422 acres, destroying six buildings and damaging 12 more. It was 85 percent contained as of Monday night.

The Creek Fire started last Tuesday morning near Sylmar and spread into residential neighborhoods, where it destroyed 60 residential buildings and damaged another 55. The fire is 95 percent contained after scorching 15,619 acres.

The Rye Fire, which also started last Tuesday morning, broke out near Santa Clarita, burning through more than 6,000 acres and destroying six structures. It was 96 percent contained as of this morning.

The assistance center is located at the Lake View Terrace Recreation Center on Foothill Boulevard in Lake View Terrace, California. The center will be open from noon to 8 p.m. through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.