Rawles Thompson, neighbor to the Reagan Ranch watches helicopters dip into “Freedom Lake”, which sits next to the Western White House. Watch the video here IMG_0982.MOV
The Reagan Ranch has so far escaped any damages other than ash and soot from the Scherpa Fire so far, according to Rawles Thompson who manages the ranch next door.
“We are really lucky to be near the Western Whitehouse because it means they will do all they can to save it and those of us surrounding it,” Thompson said.
Thompson spent all day Thursday at the Reagan Ranch watching the fire crews and helicopters dipping into “Freedom Lake”, the pond that is next to the house.
The incident started Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. with a 20-acre brush fire on top of Refugio Road on the Santa Ynez Mountain range.
Santa Barbara County and U.S. Forest Service crews were called to the blaze, which originally was reported on the 2500 block of Refugio Canyon Road near Rancho La Scherpa. Resources assigned to the fire included 10 engines, two bulldozers, two 20-person hand crews, three helicopters and eight air tankers, according to the website. So far there are more than 1,200 personnel battling the blaze which has consumed more than 4,000 acres and is at five percent containment as of Friday morning. A Wind Advisory is in effect for the Santa Ynez Mountain areas and calls for winds of 15-25 mph, with gusts to 40 mph. Today firefighters will continue to work on building and reinforcing containment lines along the North and East sides of the fire, and along Highway 101., according to officials.
“I just came down Refugio Road and one side looks normal while the eastern side looks just terrible. The lush vegetation is gone, and I am glad no one has been hurt and no houses other than just an outbuilding have been damaged,” Thompson said.
Watch the video of the condition of Refugio Road on our YouTube channel!
Thompson’s father George just retired from managing Rancho del Cielo for more than 10 years. During the 1980s it took a profound turn transforming from a ranch high atop a hill in Santa Barbara County to the West Coast headquarters of the 40th President of the United States Ronald Reagan. The Reagan Ranch came to be known as the “Western White House,” as President Reagan would spend a full year’s time there during his two terms.
From the Reagan Ranch website the Presidential duties at the Ranch were quite varied, ranging from telephone calls to heads of state and Cabinet members to celebrities such as comedian Jerry Lewis and baseball player Willie Stargell.
President Reagan also hosted and held meetings at the Ranch. He met there with White House staff, his Cabinet, Vice President Bush, and with heads of state including Queen Elizabeth II on a very stormy day which was tricky driving up the steep narrow road.
There were dozens of significant events that occurred while Reagan was at the Ranch, including the August 1981 signing ceremony for the Economic Recovery Tax Act and the president’s decision that same month to fire 11,359 striking air-traffic controllers. The latter moment came during Reagan’s road to recovery from the assassination attempt where the Ranch once again worked its therapeutic magic on the man’s body and soul.
Thompson said he believes that tours of the Reagan Ranch will resume once it is deemed safe.