Category Archives: Local

Fillmore Fireworks 2014

Are you in Ventura County wondering where to get fireworks? Do you want to light things on fire instead of just letting the pros do it?

Well, you should head to Fillmore! (Specifically Thursday July 3 from 6am to 10pm, and Friday July 4 from 6am to 9pm.) Just roll into town on the 126 and you will see dozens of “FIREWORKS!” stands.

Fireworks Stand McDonalds Fillmore

Juris—I want to responsibly burn things—dictions

An aside about state law: California State law permits the sale and use of only “Safe and Sane” fireworks, which are generally fireworks that neither fly nor explode. ALL other fireworks are illegal, ANYWHERE in the state. Safe and Sane fireworks are marked with the following seal:

safe and sane California symbol

Back to Ventura County!

The City of Fillmore is the only jurisdiction in Ventura County that sells fireworks, and the only jurisdiction that allows their use.

Fillmore has kinda tiny limits.

Fillmore has kinda tiny limits.

Since the City of Fillmore has its own fire department—as opposed to, say, Camarillo, which uses the Ventura County Fire Department and thus abides by county firework codes—it can choose to permit these activities, and does.

But why? In such a fire-prone region, in the driest time of the year, what does Fillmore get from allowing this?

Explosive Fundraising!

The sale of fireworks is (apparently) often tied to fundraising for non-profit organizations. There are two dozen groups licensed by the City of Fillmore to sell this year. The groups must meet in Fillmore, benefit the local community, and have been established as such for at least three years. (The application process is $400 and the 2014 fireworks booth packet is on the Fillmore website.)

According to the Ventura County Star, last year the sales brought in “net revenues of $308,099.”

Use ’em if you got ’em

four colors fireworks fillmore

Okay, great! You purchased fireworks legally, presumably you’re still within city limits and haven’t illegally transported them yet, and now you’re wondering “How can I set off these Morning Glories SO LEGALLY as a way of expressing civic pride, the beauties and complications of democracy, and fuck yeah fireworks amirite?!”

Until July 5th, safe and sane fireworks can be used on private property in the City of Fillmore, or in any of Fillmore’s public parks (saw the park thing in the Star’s article). Fillmore’s public parks include Shiell Park, Main Street Park, Meadowlark Park, Central Park, and Delores Day Park; they do not include Kenny Grove Park and Two Rivers Park, both outside city limits.

out of focus fireworks in fillmore


YES! Booths are in the McDonald’s parking lot at 900 Ventura Street, Fillmore, CA. (At least according to their website; really, the stands are literally everywhere off the 126 in Fillmore. Go ham.) The remaining hours are Thursday July 3 from 6am to 10pm, and Friday July 4 from 6am to 9pm. Get a $10 off a purchase of $50 or more coupon from TNT Fireworks.

Retro McDonalds Sign Fillmore

Safety First!

The Ventura County Fire Department’s Mike Lindbery recommends “staying away from all fireworks unless they’re part of a licensed, professional show.”

Always have water on hand, always douse used fireworks in water, only use “safe and sane” fireworks, and keep children away from them.

The Fillmore Car Show page should have the most updated info on this year’s fireworks sales.

Have a fun, safe, and awesome Fourth of July! Yeah, freedom!

Camarillo Springs Fire, One Year Later

Today is the year anniversary of the Camarillo Springs Fire. This is a recap of my experience, from evacuation and an uneasy (but free) Thursday, to celebration of fire fighters and first responders.

Panorama taken from West Ponderosa in Camarillo.

Panorama taken from West Ponderosa in Camarillo.

Quick recap

The Springs Fire started just after 7 a.m. Thursday, May 2, 2013. It burned over 24,000 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area: from the 101 to the Pacific Ocean, from Satwiwa and Point Mugu to Sandstone Peak. It burned through vegetation and over soil I had trod before and have trod since.

Map of Camarillo Springs Burn Area

Green is where I lived. Yellow are places I frequent. The bright red is where the fire started.

Some people just want to watch the world burn

Others just want to leave when things are burning.

I woke up that morning to a text reading, “FIRE?!?!?!?!” and thought, “What.” I turned over, looked out the window, and:

Camarillo Springs Fire view from my bed

Good morning!

At the time I lived on campus at California State University (CSU) Channel Islands (CI). I also worked as a Resident Assistant (RA). We had trained for fires in housing—popcorn bags in microwaves and fire extinguishers—but never expected a wildfire encircling the entire campus.

Having grown up with basic disaster training, I grabbed some essentials essentials—passport, birth certificate, social security card, medication, laptop, phone, chargers, wallet. During a quick shower I was called down to the common area for an emergency housing meeting.

It’s uncomfortable to breathe

At the meeting we learned there was a mandatory evacuation. We made sure all housing staff was okay, went through the evacuation and room check procedure, and how to check in with residents afterward.

By this point—10 or 11 a.m.—flames were near or on campus, and smoke and ash was making it hard to breathe.

The housing team was prepared, calm, and had full support from division administration. There were between 1000 and 1200 residents in housing and an hour later they were all gone. Which was great; I am proud to have been part of that team.

Smoke over the CI campus

Smoke over the CI campus, taken from Laguna between Lewis and Las Posas.

But also literally nuts!

Like, none of us were sure whether or not the school would be there the next day. If we would have places to live. What would burn. Where the fire would go.

Some people packed two, three, four suitcases and needed help getting to their cars, which like. No. A few friends tried to go back for one of their fish, which also, like. No.

CI hillside from after the fire

This was taken a day or two after the fire from probably five steps out of my room. Flames could have easily jumped this street. WTF.

A fire day is like a SoCal snow day, right!

The stress of the semester was coming to a climax. Graduation was two or three weeks away. I had continually over promised and under delivered on my capstone project; there were a handful of other essays, which I pushed off to the last minute; there were final events to plan, living arrangements to make, and the entire future of my life to consider.

This fire ended up being a mini-vacation.

I ran into my mom at Starbucks, my dad ten minutes later, and probably twenty other students and people from the school throughout the day. I drank at a friends, drank in Ventura with sociology friends, and drank at a friend’s again.

Camarillo Springs Fire from Ventura

You could still see the Camarillo Springs Fire from Ventura.

Fuck yeah fire fighters


The fire moved deeper into the Santa Monica Mountains, switched back toward Newbury Park, and ultimately burned over 24,000 acres. Very few structures were damaged, no buildings were destroyed, and no one died. It’s fucking impressive what the fire fighters and other response agencies did.

The campus and housing did not burn down.

That was amazing. It is still amazing.

My birthday that weekend I was lovingly kidnapped by coworkers to get Mexican food, had three hours of housing meetings, beer with a good friend, and a shot of Patron.

Kidnapped for Mexican Food

I took this picture using assistive touch on the iPhone.

Turn down the heat, turn up the celebration

The week after the fire, there was a rally in support of and in appreciation for the fire fighters and first responders. The Ventura County Fire Chief was awarded some kind of plaque at our commencement, and it was really so awesome. When he was announced literally everyone stood up in applause. (So strange right now, I’m tearing up in a terminal at LAX thinking and writing about this.)


Fire, it’s natural, but damn

Charred manzanitas and warped aluminum cans still sit in the burn area. Wildflowers and green things sprouted up for the first time after the final two rains this season, and already the summer brown is returning. Fires are dotting around California again.

Regrowth on Potrero

Plants are growing back on Potrero Road.

I am glad and grateful that university, county, state, federal government, and other organizations had the resources and organization to respond so quickly. I am grateful that the campus didn’t burn and was impressed that CSU Chancellor Tim White visited the campus less than 24 hours after the start of the fire. I was so impressed and proud that the campus and housing was effectively and smoothly evacuated in an hour. Twitter, Facebook, and other Social Networking Sites were awesome as disaster response tools. State and federal park service agents and other nature volunteers have come together to protect thousands of acres of burned land and recover a disturbed ecosystem.

Any way the wind blows

Things could have happened so differently. What if the wind was stronger, or blew this way instead of that? What if buildings on campus weren’t roofed in Spanish-style tile? What if the housing team was less cohesive?

Don't hop the street!

Don’t touch the street, it’s lava!

But it happened this way and that’s totally fine.

So, stay safe, friends. Stay connected and aware. Help others when you can. Look out for yourself, look out for each other. I’ll do the same for you.

Santa Anas bring a #WindyWednesday

Another round of Santa Ana Winds is upon us this Wednesday. If you want to stop reading now, totally chill—just know it is going to be a warm, windy Wednesday, and you should make sure all your things outside are secure.

And no worries about your hair today, dear reader. You’re always rockin’ it!

National Weather Service Alerts

  • High Wind Warning for Ventura County mountains, Los Angeles County mountains—including the Santa Monicas, and the Santa Clarita Valley. These will be in effect until 3 p.m. Wednesday. Winds from the northeast will “increase to 25 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.”
  • Red Flag Warning for pretty much all the places. This will be until 6 p.m. and means conditions are ripe for fire (low relative humidity, gusty wind, warm temperatures).
  • Wind Advisory for Ventura County valleys and coast, and the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles coast. This is also until 3 p.m., with the strongest winds between 3 a.m. and noon. “Northeasterly winds will increase to 20 to 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.”
  • Various marine and water warnings

They also have this fancy image on their Facebook:

Santa Ana Warnings March 2014

To keep up-to-date on all Southern California “Watches, Warnings, and Advisories” go to the National Weather Service’s Southern California Watches, Warnings, and Advisories page. It refreshes automatically.

What is a Santa Ana??!!?! Is this Christmas?!

It is the name of a strong, dry, and usually warm, wind phenomenon in Southern California. It occurs when the deserts and land to the northeast of the Southland[1] are both relatively cold and a high pressure system develops, which makes the cold air sink.

This sinking cold air moves down the mountains between the desert region and Southern California, causing the air to increase in temperature (according to Robert Fovell’s Santa Ana FAQ, dry air warms at almost 30 degrees Fahrenheit per mile of descent). The air picks speed up when traveling through passes and canyons and loses even more moisture as it heats up.

So that explains the strong, dry, warm, wind! Hat tip to Robert Fovell and his Santa Ana FAQ and Santa Ana Winds pages for a breakdown. He also has a page on the Santa Ana Winds etymology. (The name probably comes from a canyon in Orange County called Santa Ana Canyon.)

Here’s a fun picture:

Santa Ana Diagram

  1. Another term for Southern California, more toward Los Angeles and further south than Ventura County. Ventura County is sometimes referred to as part of the Gold Coast or the start of the Central Coast depending on where you are in the county.  ↩

Two storms should bring Ventura County rainfall

Two storms are predicted this week, one on Wednesday/Thursday and the other from Thursday to Saturday. The storms may bring the heaviest rainfall since December 2012.


With 2013 being the driest recorded year in Ventura County, it really has felt like Albert Hammond got it right in his song, “It Never Rains in Southern California.” Give it a listen while reading:

Seems it never rains in southern California
Seems I’ve often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California

However. As alerted by meteorological blogs, apps like Dark Sky and eWeather HD, and the National Weather Service (the NWS has Facebook)—rain is coming!

Dark Sky predictions of weather at the end of February 2014, which visualizes the precipitation effects and associated Ventura County rainfall from a forecasted two storms.

The Dark Sky app is useful only two or three times a year in Southern California.

Do you mean, “Winter is coming?”

Why not! It is California, after all! We probably won’t get any Polar Vortex, but this is the perfect time to check your windshield wipers, find an umbrella or rain jacket, and break out your Rainbows! (You’re probably already wearing flip-flops because that Cali weather, amirite?!)

It is also prudent to plan for traffic accidents, along with possible flooding or mudslides.

But girl don’t they warn ya
It pours, man it pours

First storm

The first and weaker storm is expected late Wednesday to Thursday morning. The NWS forecasts a quarter to one inch of rain (.25″ to 1″), with daytime snow levels Wednesday between 7000 and 7500 feet and nighttime Wednesday to Thursday at 6500 feet. Effects may include slick roads and light flooding of low-lying areas.

Second storm

The second and stronger storm is late Thursday night to late Saturday night. On the coast and in valleys, look for one to three inches of rain (1″ to 3″); in foothills and mountains, three to six inches, with local areas toward eight inches (4″ to 6″, possible 8″). Snow levels of 7000 to 7500 feet on Friday; 5000–5500 feet Friday night to Saturday.

The impact of this second storm may include mud and debris flows in burn areas (this includes areas affected by the Camarillo Springs Fire, such as California State University Channel Islands and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area), winter conditions in the mountains, urban flooding, and thunderstorms.

Check this NWS map of expected rainfall amounts:

NWS total rainfall prediction map for two storms in late February slash early March, with the Ventura County rainfall between two to four inches.

Looks like two to four inches in most of Ventura County.

Coastal waters

The storms will also affect beaches and coastal waters. The NWS has issued a beach hazard statement for Thursday to Sunday. This means high surf and strong rip currents. (Earlier on their Facebook they posted an image and alert about gale force winds, waterspouts, hail, and thunderstorms in coastal waters—don’t see it on the official site.)

Disclaimer about the rest of this post

Things probably won’t get SUPER crazy, but I am including the below for reference.

(Disclaimer for real: Every effort has been made to offer the most current, correct, and clearly expressed information possible, but I, and whatever website, group, or organization this post is affiliated with, disclaim any responsibility or liability for harms or damages as a result of the information and resources.)

Flooding preparation

The Ventura County Fire Department has a file on flood-preparedness that includes the following tips to get ready:

Driving in the rain

Driving in the rain takes more awareness, concentration, and caution. Two cornerstones of wet weather driving are:

  1. Reduce your speed
  2. Increase visibility

Number one: reduce your speed. It is suggested to drive five mph slower than the posted speed limit, which may translate to ten or fifteen mph slower than normal (especially on the freeways). This promotes proper traction between your tires and the road, reducing the risk of hydroplaning. (If you do find yourself hydroplaning—don’t break! Just take your foot off the gas and regain control of your vehicle.)

Number two: increase visibility. Do this for yourself and others by using your headlights and your windshield wipers.

The LA County Sheriff also mentions increasing following distance and to check breaks and tires.

Alerts and closures

These are some resources for weather, park, and traffic alerts, closures, and restrictions:

The Ventura County Watershed Protection District is an information dump “created solely for the convenience of the County and related public agencies,” which includes daily rain levels and a lot of maps. One of those maps highlights flood areas around Ventura County.

The California Nevada River Forecast Center website hosts an observed precipitation page, one of which is specific to Ventura County rainfall.

Woo, rain!

Enjoy the rain, stay safe out there, continue to conserve water, and tag your weather pictures with #ventureventura!

Camarillo Gemini Street Ventura County Christmas Lights Blue Lights

Ventura County Christmas Lights Traditions 2013

You might be thinking, “Cut to the chase, Andy.” Okay! Here’s a map of everything mentioned: the Candy Cane Lanes, light shows, and the “Santa-In-Lights” Christmas Eve helicopter.

“Candy Cane Lanes,” light shows, and a Santa Chopper

With five days left until Christmas, I expect most people who are going to decorate have already put up their lights. I check each year if any of my friends want to drive around looking at lights. We haven’t gone yet, and I’m out of state visiting family, but that shouldn’t stop any of you from checking out these annual Ventura County Christmas lights traditions.

Camarillo Christmas Lights (2013)

Camarillo Gemini Street Ventura County Christmas Lights Blue Lights

Gemini Street in Camarillo is always decked out. The Camarillo Acorn just released an article on the annual Camarillo tradition that also mentions the Christmas tree on top of the water tower in Old Town and The Christmas Pig. To get to the Gemini Street lights, go north on Arneill past Ponderosa (this would be toward the hills in Cam, away from the water tower Christmas tree). You’ll come to a stop sign that intersects with Dunnigan, turn right. Go down the street a bit and turn right on Gemini. Many drivers turn off their lights. Consider parking to walk around. (GPS protip: Search for the “Dunnigan St. and Gemini St.” intersection in Camarillo.)

Oxnard Christmas Lights (2013)

Oxnard G Street Ventura County Christmas Lights Charlie Brown

Downtown Oxnard has another Ventura County “Candy Cane Lane.” From 6 pm to 10 pm until the 25th, head to the display on F and G Streets between Fifth and First Streets. According to the Ventura County Star these started in 1992 after the Candy Cane Lane in Ventura closed up. Some residents sell hot chocolate, there is often live music, and last year I recall an extensive model train set. (GPS protip: Search for the “5th St. and G St.” intersection in Oxnard.)

Moorpark Christmas Lights (2013)

Moorpark also joins in the holiday cheer. This Candy Cane Lane is near the Arroyo Vista Community Park off Tierra Rejada Road. The streets, according to an author on Macaroni Kid, are Pinedale Rd, Clearwood Rd, Cedardale Rd. (I personally have not been to these lights and cannot verify that they still go on, but it seems likely they exist.)

Newbury Park Christmas Lights (2013)

There is a choreographed light–music display in Newbury Park at 5309 Via Jacinto. Head over between 5 pm and 10 pm until January 1st. Be sure to tune into 99.1 FM to hear the music! Also in Newbury Park is an animated display at 538 Brisbaine Avenue; 100.5 FM. There may still be lights near the intersection of Via Patricia and Via Ricardo in Dos Vientos (on Via Patricia) as they have been happening the past six years; 99.1 FM. Sandra Court in Newbury Park may have a good number of decorated homes, too (GPS protip: search for the “S Dewey Ave. and Sandra Ct.” intersection). The following is a video from one of these houses:

Thousand Oaks Christmas Lights (2013)

At 1566 El Dorado Drive in Thousand Oaks, there is a nightly light display from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm (10:30 pm on Friday and Saturday). The Conejo Valley Guide has a great article on their almost 30 minute show. Bring some canned goods and other non-perishables to put into a collection can for the Manna Canejo Valley Food Bank. Apparently this display is interactive!

Simi Valley Christmas Lights (2013)

A few houses have some stuff going on in Simi Valley: the corner of Timberlane and Fearing and a second one at Highland and Sinaloa.

Other Ventura County Christmas Lights (2013)

And finally, Aspen Helicopters will fly Santa-In-Lights, “an 800-pound, 35-foot long Santa Claus light display,” around west county from 6 pm to 7:40 pm on Christmas Eve. It’s called Santa-In-Lights. The VC Star scheduled out the route. Camarillo will be around 6:25 to 6:45 pm; Riverpark and The Collection at 6:50 pm; and then downtown Ventura from 7:18 to 7:30 pm.

The Canejo Valley Guide has even more Christmas and holiday events.

This is a map of all the things mentioned in this post.

As a quick aside, the most striking display I’ve seen just driving around was coming into Camarillo via Santa Rosa Road. On the right, just about into the city limit, there are blue and white lights flashing “LET IT SNOW.” It may not snow in Ventura County, other than in the mountains, but it has snowed at my family’s in Ohio!

Ohio Christmas Snow

What Christmas lights do you go see every year? Let me and your neighbors know by commenting below, tweet me @itsandyking, or send an email to andy.king977 at gmail dot com.

This is cross posted at Venture Ventura, a “living guide book” to Ventura County that I help with. Check it out here.