Lockwood Valley Man Dies in House Fire

  • Dale Brouse's house burns Friday morning, June 27.

    Dale Brouse's house burns Friday morning, June 27.

By Gary Meyer

LOCKWOOD VALLEY, Calif. (Friday, June 27, 2008 at 12:15 p.m.; updated July 1) — A Lockwood Valley man died the morning of Friday, June 27 in a house fire at Adams Trail and Curtis Trail.

Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash said Ventura County engines were dispatched at 6:09 a.m. from Ojai and arrived at 7:33 a.m. Patrol 16, which is normally stationed in Lockwood Valley during fire season, was not in the valley at the time of the fire.

According to Nash, Ventura County has a contract with Kern County to cover Lockwood Valley. Kern County Fire Department Patrol 57 was dispatched at 5:59 a.m. and arrived at 6:17 a.m. to find the residence 70 percent involved in flames. Los Angeles County Engine 77 also responded, arriving at 7:01 a.m.

The building was searched for victims and one fatality was discovered, officers reported.

Neighbors said that 84 year old Dale Brouse was found by firefighters in the smoke-filled kitchen while the second story of the house burned.

Neighbor Cliff Wallace had received a phone call at 5:56 a.m. from another neighbor Chris Doyle who said he could see smoke. “I live higher up than Chris, so I grabbed my binoculars,” Wallace told The Mountain Enterprise on Friday. “I had to tell Chris I was hanging up to call the fire department and then drive down there.”

Wallace said he and Eli Meigs, along with a Ventura County Sheriff’s deputy, tried frantically to break windows for a way into the house. “It’s a strange feeling to know there’s a human life at stake and to see the scene and know there’s not much hope—but to know you wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if you didn’t try.

“I was under the overhang, breaking a window when the upstairs just exploded with a ball of flames over me. I could feel the heat through the overhang. I had to admit to myself at that moment that we had to get out of there,” Wallace said.

“Dale was just a wonderful gentleman,” Wallace said. “He would come over sometimes for barbecues and we’d just sit around, have a drink and talk. His favorite drink was Noilly Pratt Martinis. Several people told me today, ‘Oh no, I was just talking to him the other day.’  I’m really going to miss him.”

This is part of the June 27, 2008 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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