Rebuilding after the Thomas Fire


One of the house that burned in the Thomas Fire in the process of rebuilding. Credit: Jeni Bufford (used with permission)

Elie Bufford

1,343 structures were destroyed or damaged in the Thomas Fire. Now, they all have to be rebuilt. Throughout Ventura County, construction workers, contractors and designers are in the midst of the long process of rebuilding.

Contractor Ruth Smith believes that “it’ll be another couple years” before rebuilding is finished.

With so many homes needing permits, even just getting building permits for every house will be time consuming.

Marty Robinson, who’s house is in the final stages of rebuilding was “number 17” in getting her building permit. With hundreds still waiting in line to get permits, there is no question that the rebuilding process will take a long time.

For those working in construction, rebuilding means a lot of work.Smith’s company, MSI construction, has been working on “about 35 to 40” Thomas Fire rebuilds, with 13 currently in contract. In order to keep up with all the demands, they have been forced to bring in more independent contractors to get the job done.

Although there are many difficult aspects of rebuilding, overall it is a positive experience for the workers involved with rebuilding. For them, it feels rewarding to be able to help repair the damage left by the fire. Many people have put off rebuilding because they aren’t ready, but for those who are rebuilding, “it’s exciting,” as Robinson put it.

Because of the fire,  the construction industry in Ventura is changing. With all the demands on construction companies, people have had to reach out to others in the area as well as increase in size. According to Smith, because of rebuilding, people have “more connections” with other companies in the area.

Hundreds of homes were destroyed in the fire, but now Ventura is rebuilding. Even though it’s difficult, costly, time consuming and is likely to take years, construction workers can also perceive it to be wonderful and exciting. Construction in Ventura has been greatly impacted, but not in a bad way. People are excited at the chance to rebuild and everyone in the field of construction will be right by their side in the years to come, helping them rebuild their house and create something new.

What do you think?