LOS ANGELES (CIRCA) — In November of last year, over 96,000 acres of Los Angeles were engulfed by a wildfire, including an historic Hollywood film set, and the home of the National Park Service employee who lived there.
The Woolsey Fire destroyed more than 1,600 structures, including Paramount Ranch, a historic Western film set from the 1920s, most recently seen on the HBO series "Westworld." Like many others, the caretakers of the ranch now face the arduous task of rebuilding the sets, and for some, their lives.
Paramount Ranch, now operated by the National Parks Association, serves as the only national park site in the country to tell the story of American film history by inviting guests to observe filmmaking that takes place in the park.
As home to productions from "Westworld" to "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" and episodes of "Drunk History," for many, Paramount Ranch represents a history of film in Los Angeles. It was also a beloved destination for day trips and horseback riding, as well as a host for events like music festivals and weddings. But on November 8, 2018, that was lost.
The aggressive Woolsey Fire in the Santa Monica Mountains made its way across the 405 freeway and destroyed all but a few structures of the ranch, including a home where NPA staffer Bernadette Perry's family lived for the past two years.
Though no one was hurt when the fire swept through Paramount Ranch, Perry's home was leveled to ash, along with her family's possessions.
"At about 8:15 in the morning, [NPS Public Affairs Officer Kate Kuykendall] called me, and I thought the phone call would be 'Hey, is everyone in your department OK?' It was not the phone call I expected," said Perry while revisiting the site where her house once stood. "She said, 'I'm really sorry your house didn't make it.' That was really hard."
Perry's story is one of many about people who were affected by the fires, but she shared her enthusiasm to see the ranch restored to a communal place of joy for Los Angeles.
"Just the happiness that people brought when they came here, bringing picnic lunches, going hiking, bringing there dogs out here, seeing the joy it brings makes me happy that they're going to rebuild."
The National Park Service is now raising funds through its local nonprofit partner, the Santa Monica Mountains fund, to rebuild and open Paramount Ranch up for filming.
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