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14 Nov 2018

BY James Chapple

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TRFBLI

Tui agent caught up in devastating California wildfires

A travel agent has described how she and her family were caught up in the fierce wildfires that have swept along the US west coast this week killing more than 40 people and forcing hotels and attractions to be evacuated.

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Tui agent caught up in devastating California wildfires

Tui agent Leanne Moreno spoke to TTG on Tuesday (November 13) from Anaheim, California, where she has been on holiday with her husband and young daughter.


“We could see it [the smoke] while driving to Universal [Studios] along the i5,” she said.

 

“Universal faces the opposite direction but the air quality was definitely affected. It was a bit like when you go on the [London] Underground and then blow your nose.”

 

Moreno, who works at Tui’s Burnham-on-Sea branch, said the family had to forego their plans to hike up to the famous Hollywood sign due to the air quality.


“We did Top of the World at Laguna Beach instead. You could see all the smoke clouds and smog from the fire and smell it in the air 100 miles away,” Moreno added.


On Tuesday, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said the death toll had risen to 42, making the wildfire the worst in the state’s history. Hundreds more people remain unaccounted for.


Around 300,000 people have either been evacuated from the area or forced to flee their homes.


Los Angeles tourist board Discover LA said a mandatory evacuation order had been enforced in Malibu, with attractions and hotels, including the Malibu Beach Inn, Four Seasons Westlake and Nobu Ryokan, all evacuated.


River cruise line AmaWaterways had to evacuate its Calabasas base as a result of the raging fires. A spokesperson confirmed to TTG its staff were currently working out of a satellite office where they would remain until normal operations can resume.

 

Visit California confirmed evacuations were still taking place owing to a number of ongoing wildfires, adding the air quality in many surrounding communities would be affected.


The Foreign Office (FCO), meanwhile, has been issuing regular updates for British travellers, advising anyone in the area to follow the instructions of the relevant local authorities and obey any evacuation orders, monitor local media and remain vigilant.


Operators including Trafalgar, Gold Medal, Travel 2, Exsus Travel and Travel Counsellors all told TTG the effect of the fires on their trips had been minimal to none, but stressed they were closely monitoring the situation ahead of any future departures and/or enquiries.

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