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Industry unharmed by California fires

Published May 3, 2013
The view from near Giant's headquarters Friday.

NEWBURY PARK, CA (BRAIN) — Strong Santa Ana winds in Southern California coupled with record high temperatures and low humidity have led to a series of wildfires. One of the largest blazes in Ventura County forced evacuations of neighborhoods in Camarillo and Thousand Oaks, but so far bike businesses in the area remain unscathed. 

Giant Bicycles is headquartered in Newbury Park, a community not far from the 18,000-acre blaze that began in neighboring Camarillo along U.S. 101 Thursday morning. But offices there remain open. 

“The blaze came within about 1.5 miles of our headquarters,” said Patrick VanHorn, Giant’s corporate communications manager. “Nobody, however, lost property or is injured. One or two of our employees live in evacuation zones but were only affected for an hour or two.

"We had emergency responders at the bottom of the driveway that leads up to our offices," VanHorn said. "They were directing traffic, blocking off affected roads. We knew we would be notified right away if we needed to prepare to evacuate. There were a few folks who went to their homes and were standing by in case they had to evacuate. But, for the most part, we were unscathed."

Newbury Park Bicycle Shop also is still open, but staff said smoke from the fire was visible from the store — located along Newbury Road — and strong winds continued to blow ash around, affecting air quality. But so far employees’ homes were out of harm’s way. 

Albabici, importer of Italian brands, has offices several miles north of the fire in Oxnard. Alessandro Godi, one of the company’s founders, was still answering phone calls Friday morning. 

“We’re not affected,” he said. “We see the smoke from here, but we’re doing business as usual.”

About 500 firefighters reportedly remain on the scene in Ventura County, but the latest news reports say a bump in humidity is good news as local emergency crews try to contain the blaze. Wind advisories have been cancelled for the area.  The fire was 20 percent contained Friday afternoon but evacuations remained in effect. 



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