A billionaire winery owner and has teamed up with surfers to help deliver supplies from his 142-foot yacht to California wildfire victims.
Howard Leight, co-owner of the Malibu Rocky Oaks winery, reached out to his friend Bill Kerbox on Monday in hopes that the two could hatch a plan to use Leight’s $25million yacht to bring supplies into areas devastated by the Woolsey Fire.
They put a call out on social media under the hashtag #malibuhope, asking anyone in the area to join the mission.
On Tuesday morning, a group of volunteers loaded up the Leight Star with around 3,000 water bottles, 100 gallons of gasoline, snacks, dog food, lots of beer and other necessities before making their way to Paradise Cove.
As they approached the cove, police stopped the volunteers and said they would not be allowed to ferry the goods to shore themselves.
Luckily, there were a number of surfers and paddleboarders nearby who were happy to jump into the water to transport the supplies to their final destination.
Much of Leight’s vineyard in the Santa Monica Mountains has been destroyed in the wildfires, according to the Times.
He opened the winery in 2003 after selling his hearing protection company, Howard Leight Industries, for $120million.
Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyard consists of 10 planted acres sitting on a 37-acre plot.
The billionaire said he spent Friday night trying to save the vineyard and two of his homes. After the threat had passed his properties, Leight wanted to see what he could do for others.
Many communities in the area north of Los Angeles are still under evacuation orders as the Woolsey Fire rages on.
Residents have had to be resourceful in how they transport supplies to affected communities as a number of roads remain closed either by law enforcement or by flames.
‘There’s been so much confusion,’ Kerbox told volunteers before they set out on Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
‘We need to get out on social media that supplies are going to start be unloaded in a little over an hour.’
The LA County Sheriff’s deputy that stopped the yacht at the cove’s entrance had told the group: ‘If we’re not letting people in by land, we’re not letting them in by sea.’
Thankfully the swimmers and surfers could take on the final leg of the mission.
Malibu residents spotted the civilian efforts and began sharing photos on social media, drawing in even more volunteers.
The Woolsey Fire was nearly 50 percent contained by Wednesday morning but Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott told Fox News that there is ‘no end in sight’ for the dry weather which has turned California into a tinder-box.
‘We are not out of the woods yet,’ added Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen. ‘We still have incredibly tough conditions ahead of us.’
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