For 36 hours, her world was tossed into turmoil.
Even as college student Madison Means grieved Friday for four of her pals killed in the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill, she was forced to react to another emergency: helping her sister suddenly leave home under mandatory evacuation orders as a wildfire approached.
On Friday morning, Means, 20, stood, dazed, outside a Thousand Oaks city building that had morphed into a wildfire evacuation center, in near disbelief of what the previous two days had brought.
“Theres so much going on that I dont even have time to cope – your focus is on one tragedy and then youre torn away to deal with this,” said Means, a Cal State Northridge senior majoring in hospitality.
Thousands of residents in Ventura County spent Friday scrambling to endure the back-to-back blows.
On Wednesday night, 28-year-old former Marine Ian David Long entered Borderline in Thousand Oaks and opened fire, killing 12 people and sending the tight-knit region into mourning. Then, on Friday the Woolsey fire grew to burn more than 14,000 acres, putting as many as 200,000 people in Ventura and Los Angeles counties under evacuation orders.
Near the center of Thousand Oaks, a local teen center transformed with the rest of the city. On Thursday, it was the site where families went to learn if their loved ones had been killed in the mass shooting. By Friday, it held scores of people whom the wildfire had forced from their homes.
Means first learned of the shooting early Thursday morning when she received several frantic phone calls checking to see if she was alive. Her regular haunt had just been the site of a shooting, she learned. Then came the cruel news: her friends, acquaintances, and line-dancing companions Justin Meek, Kristina Morisette, Sean Adler, and Telemachus Orfanos had all been killed.
Means said she met the victims at Borderline since she began visiting the space a few years ago. At the time, the bar was one of the safest places she could imagine.
“My mom would tell people, I like it when she goes there because I can sleep and feel safe when shes at Borderline,” Means said.
“It hasnt fully hit me yet,” she said of her slain friends. “It might when the fire settles down.”
Means said she doesnt know whats next after such a tumultuous few days. She does know one thing: She wants the Borderline community to remain tight. Before the shooting, a group of the bars employees and regulars had planned to jointly attend the Stagecoach country music festival next year. Despite all the chaos and loss — and in some ways because of it — she said she hopes they still go, together.