Owners of Malibu Phoenix Retreat Say Their Business Will Rise From Ashes

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Jenna and Sue Pierson speak to KTLA after losing their family business to the Woolsey Fire. (Credit: KTLA)

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Despite the devastation from the wildfires burning thousands of acres in Ventura and L.A. counties, residents are finding hope for the future.

KTLA's Eric Spillman spoke with Jenna and Sue Pierson, who own and operate Malibu Phoenix Retreat, a wedding and event venue.

Jenna said her family has owned the property in Latigo Canyon for the past 60 years, when her grandparents built the first surf and summer camp in Malibu.

"The fire just jumped over the freeway and we could see the flames coming over the hill," Jenna said. "My dad's a fighter. He's been through quite a few fires here where they've almost lost everything and so he decided to stay, against the police and all of our advisement. And so we grabbed all of our animals and we left once we could see the flames just coming about a couple hundred yards from our house."

Jenna said she and her mother spent hours not knowing anything, until they decided to return to check on her father.

She said they drove through flames and saw a home on the corner of their street exploding and completely engulfed in flames. When she got back home, she was terrified when she could not find her father.

Jenna said her parents' home was still standing, but her home and the business she spent years building was reduced to ashes.

"It's gone, yeah, but my dad's alive, and that's all I was really worried about," Jenna said. "He stayed there. He saved their house. He tried to save my neighbor's house."

Jenna said for the last three years they've been renovating the business, and were just one month away from their grand opening. Right now, they're not focusing on loss. They're focused on what they still have.

"We're safe. We have our health and my father's alive," Jenna said. "Their house is the only one standing in about a cluster of about thirty houses up there. Last night, they just started exploding one-by-one. Windows blasting, propane tanks blasting, and we couldn't get out at that point so I just sat down and prayed for a few hours last night and we're alive."

Jenna and Sue said they're sure their community can overcome the loss.

"Hopefully as a community we can come together. It's a beautiful place to live. We've got a great community here. Everybody loves to help each other. So times like this really calls for it."

Although her business is now gone, Jenna said Malibu Phoenix will rise from the ashes. They will rebuild.

"That property has been in my family for sixty years and it will be in my family forever," she said. "Malibu Phoenix. We will rise."

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