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Ash falls like snow as celebrities flee California community

A scene from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, Southern California. (MGN Online)

A gray haze hangs over Montecito, where stores and gas stations are shut down as a massive California wildfire marches toward the wealthy community.

Diane Meehan's salon in Montecito is one of a few businesses still up and running, even though she can see the fire from her front window.

"People were calling. Are you open? Are you open? We want to come in. We’re so tired of being at home," said Diane Meehan of Dadiana's Salon.

She said it's important to stay open and support the community.

"It just makes us realize how unimportant things are and how important are relationships and support for each other is," she explained. "The firemen are just incredible".

The evacuation zone north of Highway 192 has a view of flames ripping across ridges as firefighters continue their attack in the hills of Santa Barbara.

92-year-old Edward Arellano in Carpinteria witnessed the so-called Thomas Fire firsthand.

"Oh, I didn’t think it was that bad,” said Arellano as he stepped outside.

"It’s very close now,” said Arellano’s daughter. "Oh my god. Yes, it is,” he replied.

Arellano is in a voluntary evacuation zone south of Highway 192. He’s staying put to watch over the home he built in 1969.

"We’re going to wait it out. That’s all we can do. Hope for the best,” he explained.

Arellano’s home is still standing, but one of his neighbors lost everything.

News 3 found a home in the mountains of Carpinteria that was still smoldering. The family who lived there escaped, but the house did not survive the flames.

Just 25 miles south of Carpinteria, a number of communities have been devastated by the flames.

On Colina Vista Street in Ventura, News 3 found multiple homes reduced to rubble and soot.

One home belongs to a Ventura dermatologist. The only things left standing on his property were a Buddha statue and chimney.

Firefighters were focused Tuesday on keeping flames from moving into Montecito, home to multi-million dollar mansions and many celebrities.

Carole Bennett has lived in her Montecito home for 20 years. She’s in a mandatory evacuation zone, but she is staying put for now.

"I mean, there were flames, not just fire, but flames, bouncing and dashing,” said Carole Bennett.

Bennett said she prepared by moving her animals and paintings out of her home.

"All the art is gone. The walls are pretty bare,” noted Bennett. “The fire is really way, way up top. It’s gotta go through a lot of homes before it comes down here,” she noted.

Firefighters are now in day eight of battling the fire. New recruits are coming in each day.

Families who packed up and left, hope they will return to their homes still standing, just days before Christmas.







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