The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, a popular destination for Southland residents and home to millions of pages of archives, was surrounded by flames Wednesday as a wildfire raged in the Simi Valley area, but officials said the facility’s collection is well protected.
The library, home to more than 60 million pages of documents and 1.6 million photographs covering Reagan’s life and administration, remained closed as the flames from the Easy Fire licked at the edges of the property. A small group of staff members were on the site.
As of midday, the flames had not reached the museum, but the fire largely encircled the hilltop landmark.
“It’s a pretty tough situation here,” the library’s executive director, John Heubusch, told KTLA5. “There’s never been fires this close to the library. It’s a place of a national treasure and the flames are licking right up against it.”
Heubusch noted that the library has an aggressive brush-clearance program to help protect the complex from fires, including the annual use of hundreds of goats that chew away at the vegetation surrounding the facility.
Library officials noted that the facility was built to provide protection from fire, and all of the sensitive documents and photographs are kept in a fire-proof vault. The museum itself is also equipped with fire doors in case flames managed to penetrate the actual building.
Heubusch told reporters he had never seen flames advance so close to the museum before.
“Right now the fire is encircling the Air Force One pavilion where obviously the famous Air Force One sits,” he told CBS2 around mid-morning. “It’s a national treasure. So hopefully the heroes out here and the helicopters and trucks that have surrounded the library — they’re doing a magnificent job. So far the library’s been protected. But we’re surrounded on all sides by the fire right now.”
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