"They asked us how many vehicles we could get there, and in about 30 minutes we were able to get six SUVs and four sedans from our fleet on the way to the hotel," says Darbahani. "We really had to consider the possibility that we might be risking our lives," he added.
The scene was intense. "I'm not kidding. When we arrived at the hotel, it was very scary. We saw oak trees that must have been more than 20 feet high on fire. There was thick smoke everywhere and the tension was very high. The Four Seasons personnel were all doing a great job, but it was still a frightening and chaotic situation," he says. "Fortunately, we were able to get our people out safely,” he says. They were also able to secure the guests’ belongings while making them comfortable during the evacuation.
"Even when we got on the road, it wasn't easy. Just about all of the hotels in the San Fernando Valley area relatively nearby were full. Fortunately, we were able to safely move all 32 guests. The really frightening part is how close the Four Seasons’ guests came to a much more dangerous situation. After we were on the road at about 3:15 a.m., all the ways to get out closed. It could have been a lot worse, and I'm very glad our logistical know-how and training paid off," he says.
The fire, now contained, burned nearly 97,000 acres and claimed more than 1,500 structures in its wake—although the hotel survived.
"We weren't under any obligation to take the job, but I really think that a high-end ground transportation service like ours should have the commitment to do great work not only when things are safe and normal, but during tough times. We're highly trained and experienced chauffeurs, not just drivers. We're committed to being the best of the best and we're there when our passengers need us the most," says Darbahani.
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