Wildfires Impact So. Cal Promo Firms

Nearly two months after wildfires ravaged the wine country counties of northern California, the state is now facing widespread blazes raging across southern California. More than 83,000 acres have been scorched, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes, as of Wednesday afternoon.

Promotional products professionals in southern California have dealt with power outages and reduced staff, and in some cases, they’ve suspended business operations. ASI data shows that just under 200 ASI-listed firms – 100+ distributors and 70+ suppliers – were within the area of active wildfires as of mid-week.

San Fernando, CA-based Pinnacle Designs (asi/78140) sits only a few blocks away from the mandatory evacuation border line from the Creek Fire, the second-largest blaze which has scorched more than 11,000 acres in and near northern Los Angeles since Tuesday morning, CNN reported. 

The supplier shut down on Tuesday due to air quality concerns and road closures, but resumed operations on Wednesday, even organizing a day care center in the conference room for employees’ children who didn’t have school. “Our facility is fine – we are open and receiving calls and shipping orders,” said David Messe, executive vice president of Pinnacle Designs. 

Santa Clarita, CA-based ESTIN Promotional Products (asi/189472) sits between two major blazes: the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, which has burned at least 65,000 acres since Monday, and the Rye Fire, which has burned at least 7,000 acres and briefly shut down access to the 5 Freeway from Highway 126.

Company owner Cheryl Frerichs said they were without power for most of Tuesday, but luckily, strong winds have blown smoke and flames away from the building. “I did learn how unprepared we were by not having an alternate phone source,” Frerichs said. “All of our phones needed to be plugged in for extra features and our cellphones require a booster (which also needs electricity) to get a signal in this area. I will be purchasing some old-style simple phones that just clip into the phone jack.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency for Los Angeles and Ventura counties on Tuesday. About 150,000 people in Los Angeles were under evacuation orders and more than a quarter of Ventura’s residents (38,000 people) have been told to leave. Earlier this week, the Skirball Fire near the Sepulveda Pass closed nine miles of Interstate 405, one of the busiest freeways in the country. At least 150 buildings in Ventura have been destroyed by the Thomas Fire, and more than 12,000 are still under threat. In the San Fernando Valley, at least 30 homes have been burned to the ground. About 43,000 homes were without power Tuesday night, according to Southern California Edison. 

Although no casualties have been reported, three firefighters were injured and hospitalized in stable condition, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. More than 1,000 firefighters have been battling the blaze in Ventura County.

The uncontained blaze was whipped by dry Santa Ana winds blowing westward from the California desert. Gusts were forecast to reach 70 miles per hour, remaining strong through Thursday and Friday.