Fire victims navigating debris removal process

011618 jamestoy after thomas fire 0394
Photo by Joe Amestoy
Cheryl Amestoy surveys the wreckage where her home once stood.
Andra Belknap, Ojai Valley News reporter
At the request of the Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) Joe and Cheryl Amestoy and their tenant, Kiera Van Gelder, left their Upper Ojai home Dec. 4 ahead of the Thomas Fire.
“We weren't alerted until some firemen shouted in bullhorns,” Joe recalled, “They said 'evacuate now.' Ten minutes later, we were gone.”
After the fire, he returned to find the structure, a former schoolhouse that he and Cheryl purchased in 1988, “flattened to the ground.”
Though the home was destroyed, Joe found multiple personal items in the rubble, including his grandmother's wedding ring, a religious statue and one of his favorite coffee cups. 
“It looked like (the cup) had been fired again,” he said.
The Amestoys are now navigating the debris removal process.
 011618 kvg Amestoy before thomas fire
Photo by Kiera Van Gelder
The Amestoys home as it looked before the Thomas Fire.

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