1948 KIT Teardrop Thomas Fire

1948 Teardrop Thomas Fire

In the early 1950s Chuck Nagel of Granada Hills California bought a used KIT teardrop trailer and began camping with his young family. As the Nagel family grew in a short period of time, eventually to nine kids, a Shasta camper was purchased and the teardrop camper sat unused for many, many years.

In early 2017, Mike Nagel, one of the nine now grown Nagel children and living in Ventura, pulled the KIT teardrop out of the family backyard and along with his two boys spent the spring of 2017 restoring the camper including a new sub floor electrical system and galley.

It’s first reveal was at the Murphy Auto Museum Vintage Trailer Show in June 2017 and soon after, Mike took his young boys on a camping trip to the Sequoias, Kings Canyon and Yosemite. Many more trips would hopefully follow, but on December 4, 2017 the devastating Thomas fire began in the hills above Santa Paula. Within five hours the devastating wildfire had quickly spread west engulfing the city of Ventura. Mike and his family were home asleep when the 80 mph winds brought embers and flames to their Via Arroyo neighborhood.

They escaped from the smoke, flames and dark with only their pajamas. Their two-story home, all their possessions and their family teardrop were lost. Their story is one of the over 700 that happened that night. This is the family KIT teardrop now entrusted to the Murphy Auto Museum to honor this family heirloom and educate visitors about the fire and flames that later became the largest wild fire in California history. Two lives were lost Virginia Persola of Santa Paula and San Diego-based fire fighter, Corey Iverson.

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