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Thomas Fire Stories: Jay Ryan ’20

Former Foothill student, now Buena student Jay Ryan ‘20 (second from the left). Credit: Jay Ryan (used with permission)


The night of the Thomas Fire, Jay Ryan ‘20 had been at his mom’s while his father’s house was burning down.

When the fire had just started, he texted his dad, asking him if he was okay. His dad responded by telling Ryan that he was trying to sleep. Worried about his safety, he said to him that he should probably evacuate, but Ryan didn’t hear back from him until the next day.



Later, Ryan’s dad sent him a picture of his burnt down house. “That was pretty bad,” Ryan said.

Before evacuating, his dad tried to stay at the house for a little bit but there wasn’t any water, so he had to leave.
“It really sucks,” Ryan said about losing the home that he and his father had grown up.

There were many things he lost, “but for the most part it honestly—if I’m being completely honest—it didn’t affect me as much as it affected him,” he said.

This is because he spends a lot of his time at his mom’s house, where he keeps most of his belongings.

His father is planning on rebuilding because “it’s always been his dream to build a house, so this is a good opportunity,” Ryan added.

Before the fire, Ryan had six pets. Now with his dad living in a small apartment, he isn’t able to have the chickens or dogs with him. So for now, the dogs are staying at a family friends house.

Coming back, “school hasn’t really changed as much,” Ryan said. He felt that it was good getting back, “a lot of the break was kind of excess, to be honest, so yeah it was kind of nice to finally have something to do again.”


If anything, the Thomas Fire helped Ryan find a new “kind of appreciation for what I have because it can just go away so quickly,” he said. It also has given him empathy for the people going through the recent fires, “because I’ve been there.”

“I lost a lot of stuff I had growing up, just random stuff and memories,” Ryan described. Though he also feels that he “didn’t really lose anything tangible,” or things that he needed.

He believes, “possessions aren’t everything, my dad lost a lot of stuff that was important to him. He made music and he lost all the music he made from the 90s till now and I mean, it’s a lot to take in and a lot to get over, but you’ll get over it,” Ryan said.
“I wasn’t affected by it as much as my dad was ’cause my parents are divorced, but they actually haven’t even started rebuilding yet,” Ryan said.

However, his dad got permission to start building a few weeks ago.

For living situations, not much has changed. His dad is still living in the same studio apartment and the fire hasn’t had an impact on how much he still gets to see his dad.

“During and right after the fire I kind of felt in shock [and] right now, like I said, I feel empathy for the people going through the other fires,” but regarding the destruction of Thomas Fire, he feels pretty much back to normal.

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Amanda Perez
Amanda Perez, Writer
"Your local ray of sunshine." - Rebekah Yahner

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Thomas Fire Stories: Jay Ryan ’20