The fast-moving, unpredictable brush fires that have swept through Southern California are disrupting businesses, people commuting to those workplaces and virtually everything else in their path.
Few businesses have been as impacted as the ones that line Rye Canyon Loop in the Southern California Innovation Park in Santa Clarita. That area was virtually ground zero for the Rye Fire that has already chewed its way through 7,000 acres of dry and brittle brush.
“We showed up for work around 10 in the morning on Tuesday, but everyone started evacuating not long after we got there,” said Bree Sanchez, client care manager for Data MicroImaging Co. The company’s services include scanning, document and data conversion, software retrieval and cloud storage.
“The smoke was pretty intense,” the 24-year-old Sylmar resident said. “It was black when it started, but when they started putting it out it was white. It was foggy on the freeway as everyone was leaving.”
Aqua-Tech Water Management, another tenant of the business park, found itself in the same boat.
“We opened at 8 in the morning and had been working for a couple of hours when I noticed police cars outside and lots of cars leaving,” said Allison McKinley, an administrative assistant with the company. “I walked outside and saw a couple of areas of fire on the nearby hillside. It was kind of in the distance but close enough to be concerning. I called property management and they said the entire business park was being evacuated.”
Aqua-Tech services cooling towers for businesses that need to regulate their air-conditioning systems.
“Our technicians mainly work in Los Angeles and in Riverside County, so they were still able to get some work done,” McKinley said. “But we couldn’t be here at the office to answer emails or make phone calls.”
Lisa Capella, the park’s property manager, said Los Angeles County firefighters and sheriff’s deputies were instrumental in bringing order the chaos.
“County fire did an outstanding job,” she said. “If you look at the back perimeter of our property it’s scorched all the way up to our parking lot, but it doesn’t go beyond that point. We didn’t have any property damage and they arrived here within minutes of my call. There were about eight fire trucks here.”
Southern California Innovation Park has since reopened.
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