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California CUs keep close watch on rare May fire
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (5/11/09)--A wildfire on hills near Santa Barbara, Calif., hasn’t closed down some area credit unions, but they are staying alert. Fueled by 60 mph winds, the fire has burned about 3,500 acres and evacuated 30,000 people from their homes as of Friday morning (The New York Times May 9). “We are still open for business,” Theresa Zanini, CEO of the $34.7 million-asset Santa Barbara County FCU, told News Now. “We’re in a warning area because the fire is right next to us. Members are still coming in to get cash. We’re going to stay open until the police tell us to move out or the smoke [from the fire] gets too bad. We’re OK, other than smoke from the fire being all over Santa Barbara.” On Friday, the credit union was half-staffed because about half of the employees were evacuated from their homes that morning. Erratic winds were blowing the fire’s embers “all over the place,” Zanini added. “Not a lot of homes have been lost at present, because the fire still is in the foothills of the city,” she explained. So far, about 1,400 firefighters, 14 helicopters and 12 airplanes were battling the fire, Zanini said. WesCom Central CU, a $3.237 billion asset credit union based in Pasadena, Calif., has two branches in the Santa Barbara area--a Le Cumbre branch and a Miltas branch. Neither has closed. “We are still operating,” Deena Spicer, WesCom vice president of marketing and communications, told News Now. “So at this point--knock on wood--there is no news. We’re keeping in touch with the branches. At this time, we are not in the evacuation zone. “We have normal staffing at the branches,” she added. “We also are fortunate that no employee homes have been damaged.”


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