Thomas Fire Scorches Avocado Acreage

Brian GermanFruits & Vegetables, Industry

The Thomas Fire has now spread to 132,000 acres in Ventura County since Monday evening when it began near Thomas Aquinas College.  A sizable amount of avocado acreage was among the total that has been affected by the fire.

Thomas Fire“We know we’ve lost at least several hundred acres of avocados, probably more,” said Research Program Director for the California Avocado Commission Tim Spann.

Fire officials have stated the fire has destroyed at least 400 structures and damaged approximately another 90.  The fire is only 10 percent contained, “so it’s still an extremely serious situation,“ said Spann.

Pine Tree Ranch, the commission’s research grove, is among the avocado acreage threatened by the fire.  Spann believes that the fire has not yet encroached on the ranch, but will not be able to confirm that “until we can get up there and assess the situation.   We really won’t know until we get boots on the ground and can actually look at the situation.”

President Trump has declared an emergency and ordered federal assistance from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to address relief efforts for the Thomas Fire.  “Growers just need to remain vigilant,” said Spann.  “I know some growers have lost homes and personal property, so just a really difficult time for the industry but we’ll get through it.”

Listen to the interview below.
Tim Spann