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Drummer Simon Phillips’ House Burns to the Ground in Thomas Fire

YouTube / Mario Tama, Getty Images
YouTube / Mario Tama, Getty Images

We have some very sad news to report this evening. The Ventura County, Calif., house of veteran session jazz and rock drummer Simon Phillips was burned to the ground last night in the Thomas Fire that has swept through Southern California.

At the time that it happened, Phillips was onstage at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City with his band Protocol 4. It was the first night of the U.S. leg of their tour, and Phillips has canceled the entire tour as he deals with the fire. A GoFundMe campaign is in the process of bring established.

The Thomas Fire started last night at 6:30PM Pacific and quickly spread via the Santa Ana winds, burning an acre a second and is still considered to be out of control. As of press time it has covered 50,000 acres, roughly 78 square miles, and has destroyed 150 buildings, including an 82-bed mental health facility. According to the Los Angeles Times, 1,000 people are fighting the fire.

“I’ve never seen a fire burn down so many structures so fast in my (30-year) career,” county fire engineer Richard Macklin told CNN.

A mandatory evacuation has forced 27,000 people to leave their homes and Gov. Jerry Brown has declared an emergency for the county.

“This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we’ll continue to attack it with all we’ve got,” he said. “It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so.”

A native of London, the 60-year-old Phillips has a varied and distinguished career, having played with such acts as the Who, Jeff Beck, Judas Priest and Joe Satriani. He served as the drummer of Toto from 1992, following the death of co-founder Jeff Porcaro, until 2014.

UPDATE: The GoFundMe page referenced above has been set up. In it, Phillips describes plight he and his fiancee, Billie Rainbird, now face. “At this juncture, I do not know what insurance will cover and I fear getting our lives back together will take much more than we can imagine,” he wrote. “We are in tremendous shock, going from disbelief to devastation to denial. We are very grateful for all the support and love we are receiving from around the world. We are truly touched and moved. Thank you.” They are hoping to raise $200,000, and you can contribute here.

Next: Revisit 'Toto IV'

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