That afternoon at 1 p.m., Gonzales and his employees received an evacuation order and were forced to leave the dealership.
"We can always replace metal," Gonzales said. "But life, you can't replace. We were lucky to get everybody out, but some employees couldn't go home because they didn't have a home to go to."
The store, which has 60 employees, remained closed the following Tuesday and was open for half days for the remainder of the week, Gonzales said. None of the employees was injured, but three lost their homes, he said. At this time, the service department is servicing vehicles on a limited basis because of the smoke and ashes.
"You know how it is when it snows?" Gonzales said. "Well, that's the way the ashes were coming down, if you can imagine that."
As the growing flames travel west, Pedro Apolinar, sales manager at the Audi and BMW showrooms for Santa Barbara Auto Group, said the store also is dealing with poor air quality..
"Anybody that is outdoors has to wear a mask, and it's a little bit challenging for the service space because you have large doors," Apolinar said. "So ash and that sort of air is still coming through."
Apolinar said sales at the BMW and Audi showrooms were down over 80 percent compared with the same time last year.
Santa Barbara Auto Group lost power from 10 p.m. Dec. 4 until around 3 a.m. Dec. 5., followed by sporadic power outages in the early morning Dec. 10, according to an email the dealership group's general manager, Duane Sanders, sent Automotive News.
Sanders said the intermittent outages have "caused lots of IT havoc" and damaged some switches in the group's phone system.
Every day comes with a new set of problems, Gonzales said. He said his store has been trying to open every day, though the air quality makes it unbearable at times.
"We're in a war zone," Gonzales said. "We're trying to do our best to clean up. We tried at the beginning of the week, and then the smoke came back."
Gonzales said none of the cars at the store suffered fire damage, although some cars were damaged by steel guides that were blown off advertising poles. But wind damage has been a factor.
"We carry about a 250-vehicle inventory, so we had over half of them [suffer wind damage] in one form or another," Gonzales said, "Some severely, some not so severe, but there were damages we'll have to deal with."