A year later, fire survivors are still waiting to rebuild

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One year ago, hundreds of homes in Ventura burned down in the Thomas Fire, and a year later, hundreds of families are still living in temporary places while they wait for the permits and insurance money they need to rebuild. Nick Bonge and his family are going through that process.

"We are going to rebuild. We have plans, and we’re just trying to get through the approval process. The good news is the county came in and cleared all this and did a spectacular job. The permitting process for a rebuild in the [City of Ventura] is something completely different. They’ve done a terrible job in providing a framework for fire victims to rebuild. As it is, we’re at least a year and a half out from completing the project. That puts a hardship on a lot of homeowners.

We’ve been staying in a condo. It was not an easy task to find it. Our advantage is we’ve lived in the community for 35 years, so we have friends and friends of friends. Not everybody is that lucky. Our insurance company, for the most part, has been pretty good. We haven’t gotten a final settlement yet, but we’re confident they’re gonna do the right thing.

The thought never entered my mind to not rebuild. It never came up in conversation with my family. What we’ve considered is how to rebuild so that should another Thomas Fire hit this home it would withstand it. There are very few places like this in Ventura, or anywhere else in the world. So yeah, of course, we want to stay here."





Kathryn Barnes