Woolsey Fire Burns 96,000 Acres, Destroys 435 Structures

Fire crews are bracing for another day of gusty Santa Ana wind conditions that could fan hot spots at the deadly Woolsey Fire, a blaze that has already charred 96,000 acres and destroyed at least 435 structures in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The fire is currently 35 percent contained. 

Los Angeles Fire chief Daryl Osby said at a news conference Tuesday morning that fire crews are gaining ground on the blaze even as gusty winds blanket the area. 

Cal Fire says they expect to put the fire completely out by Nov. 18, but warn the flames are still currently threatening about 57,000 homes in the area. 

Nearly 3,600 firefighters have been assigned to fight the fire, with 22 helicopters on hand, working the fire from above. A total of 619 engines, 48 water tenders, 23 bulldozers and 57 hand crews have been sent to battle the blaze according to Cal Fire officials. A mutual aide pact with other fire agencies has brought crews and equipment from Orange County and Arizona to aid in the battle. 

The National Weather Service forecast winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts of 40 to 45 mph possible. Wind speeds are likely to drop over night to 25 to 30 mph into Wednesday with gusts of 40 mph. 

A Red Flag Warning has been extended through 5 p.m. Wednesday for the Woolsey Fire area - except Malibu where the Red Flag Warning is expected to expire at 5 p.m. today. Temperatures of 70s to low 80s are predicted through Wednesday with lows near freezing in some wind-sheltered areas NWS Meteorologist Joe Sirard said. 

Forecasters say an on-shore flow event is expected on Friday, which should start pushing the fire back toward previously burned areas. 

Firefighters are focused on any hot spots that could be kicked up by the winds today, especially in Malibu Canyon where they want to make sure the blaze doesn't cross into Topanga Canyon. Authorities say they're worried because a falling ember has more than a 90 percent chance of igniting brush. 

Sheriff's Chief John Benedict said that two people who were found inside a burned vehicle in a long driveway in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway, likely became overwhelmed by the fire after the driver became disoriented. 

At least three firefighters have been injured while worked the Woolsey Fire. Malibu City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Jefferson "Zuma Jay" Wagner is currently recuperating at a hospital from conditions related to his effort to save his home from the blaze Friday night. 

Los Angeles County officials warned residents who were in evacuated areas to stay out of the fire area until conditions could be deemed safe. 

“Although it may appear that fire threats have passed in some communities, officials warned that the situation remains unstable and can shift dangerously with changes in wind patterns and other unpredictable factors,” the advisory noted. 

Downed power poles and live power lines are also among some of the concerns. Conditions on the ground also remain tenuous officials say, warning about live embers that could reignite brush, buckled roads, landslides, unstable ground, massive debris, unhealthy air quality, and poor visibility. 

The Los Angeles Fire Department issued Red Flag parking restrictions in so-called Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones. The restrictions bar motorists from parking their vehicles on narrow, hilly streets. A map of the zones is available at www.lafd.org/news/woolseyfire

 

All mandatory evacuations for the City of Los Angeles were lifted at 7:47 p.m. authorities announced Monday. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department also announced that some residents were being allowed to return home in Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Oak Park, North Ranch and Newbury Park. 

Evacuation orders for West Hills in Los Angeles and Bell Canyon in Ventura County have also been lifted, Cal Fire announced. 

The entire city of Malibu remained under mandatory evacuation orders today. Malibu City Councilman Skylar Peak asked residents to refrain from trying to get back into Malibu by boat. A community meeting for evacuated residents in the Malibu-area will be held tonight at Santa Monica High School's Barnum Hall. 

Pepperdine University also announced that they would be canceling classes through Nov. 26. 

Officials warned residents that despite some rumors seen on social media, officers were not escorting people back into evacuated areas to retrieve medication. 

The Sheriff's Department said between 500 to 600 deputies were on duty patrolling the evacuated areas to protect resident's homes from looters. 

Evacuations

As of 11/13/18 at 10:30 am

Mandatory evacuations have been issued for residents south of Potrero Road in Lake Sherwood and Hidden Valley areas.

Repopulation Begins for Agoura Hills and Westlake Village Residents Affected By Woolsey Fire

PLEASE: DO NOT RE-ENTER EVACUATED AREAS. MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDERS WILL REMAIN IN PLACE UNTIL IT IS SAFE FOR RESIDENTS TO RETURN.

  • Mandatory evacuations have been issued for residents south of Potrero Road in Lake Sherwood and Hidden Valley areas.
  • Entire city of Malibu, and areas south of 101 Freeway from Ventura County line to Las Virgenes/Malibu Cyn, southward to the ocean
  • Calabasas: All residences off Parkway Calabasas, including The Oaks, Vista Point, Westridge, Calabasas Hills, Calabasas Park Estates
  • Monte Nido, Topanga communities
  • Liberty Canyon west to Decker Canyon and south all the way to PCH
  • Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon on the east to Decker Canyon on the west all the way to Malibu at PCH
  • Oak Park – Entire Community
  • Bell Canyon – Entire Community
  • South of Bard Lake, east of Highway 23
  • South of Highway 101. East of Reino Rd., north of Potrero Rd., east to the L.A./Ventura County line
  • West Hills, west of Valley Circle Blvd with border to the north at Roscoe Blvd and to the south at Vanowen Street
  • Thousand Oaks – T.O. Blvd. – North to Sunset Hills, from Oak Park west to HWY 23
  • West of HWY 23 – South of E. Olson Road, North of Pederson Rd.
  • South of Bard Lake, East of HWY 23
  • South of HWY 101, East of Reino Rd., North of Potrero Rd., East to the L.A./Ventura County Line

Repopulation: Areas No Longer Under Evacuation Orders 

As of 11/13/18 at 9:00 am

  • Newbury Park – South of Highway 101 to Lynn Road, between Reino Road and Lynn
  • Simi Valley – Long Canyon, Bridal Path, Wood Ranch
  • Thousand Oaks:
    • Reino Road to Lynn Road to Highway 101
    • East of Highway 23 to Erbes Road and North from Thousand Oaks Blvd north to Sunset Hills Blvd
  • Wood Ranch and Long Canyon – All areas outlined on map
  • Westlake Village, limited areas reopened as follows:
    • City limits on the west, from the intersection of Westlake Boulevard and Sycamore Canyon Drive - north to the Ventura County and City of Agoura Hills boundaries.
    • North of the 101 Freeway, Los Angeles County
  • Agoura Hills:
    • North of the 101 Freeway, Los Angeles County
    • Chesebro Road on the eastern border
    • Agoura Road (north and south sides of the road) from Chesebro Road to the west.
  • Hidden Hills, fully reopened, which includes all residences within the city limits as follows:
    • West of Valley Circle Boulevard
    • East of Crummer Canyon Road
    • North of the Interstate 101 Freeway to the northern city limits
  • Calabasas, limited areas reopened as follows:
    • West of Topanga Canyon Boulevard
    • Northwest of Mulholland Highway
    • North of Stunt Road
    • East of Las Virgenes Road
    • East of the Lost Hills Road neighborhoods (including Lost Springs and Saratoga)
    • South of the Los Angeles/Ventura County Line

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department announced Tuesday morning that they would be opening the following areas to residents and businesses beginning at 9 a.m.

SoCal Edison is warning residents that sections of the City of Calabasas may be without power when the area reopens. 

Other areas open for residents include: 

  • Newbury Park – South of Highway 101 to Lynn Road, between Reino Road and Lynn
  • Simi Valley – Long Canyon, Bridal Path, Wood Ranch
  • Thousand Oaks – Reino Road to Lynn Road to Highway 101
  • Thousand Oaks – East of Highway 23 to Erbes Road and North from Thousand Oaks Blvd north to Sunset Hills Blvd
  • Wood Ranch and Long Canyon – All areas outlined on map
  • Westlake Village, north of the 202 Freeway, Los Angeles County
  • Agoura Hills, north of the 101 Freeway, Los Angeles County

Current Road Closures: 

As of 11/12/18 at 9:00am

  • OPEN: US-101
  • CLOSED: NB & SB off ramps on US-101 from Valley Circle to Liberty Cyn.
  • PCH Sunset to Wood Rd (north of Las Posas)
  • SR-27 Mullholland to PCH.
  • SR-23 PCH to Portrero.

Shelters

As of 11/12/18 at 11:105 a.m.

  • Taft Charter High School – 5461 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills, CA 91364 (at capacity)
  • Pierce College – 7100 El Rancho Dr., Woodland Hills, CA 91371 (Entrance off Desoto Ave.)
  • Canoga Park High School
  • Palisades Charter High School

Animal Shelters

As of 11/11/18 at 11:07 pm

As of 11/12/18 at 1:00 pm

*Animals in crates are accepted at all Red Cross shelters EXCEPT Palisades Charter*

Shelter Locations At capacity? Yes/No

  • Pierce College - Yes (small animals only) - 7100 El Rancho Drive Woodland Hills, CA 91371 (Entrance off Desoto Ave.) (at capacity)
  • Hanson Dam - Yes
  • Borchard Community Center No. Accepting small animals ONLY
  • AV Fairgrounds - Ample space for large animals
  • Taft High School - Accepting small pets ONLY, with or without crates
  • Agoura Animal Care Shelter- Closed, under mandatory evacuation

If you need large animal assistance, please call (818) 991-0071

Los Angeles County Animal Services

  • Hansen Dam Equestrian Center – 11127 Orcas Avenue, Lake View Terrace, CA 91342 (at capacity)
  • Los Angeles County Animal Services
  • Earl Warren Show Grounds – 3400 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 Check-in at Gate C off of Calle Real
  • Accepting large animals

If you need large animal assistance, please call (805) 388-4258

The California Public Utilities Commission said they were investigating Southern California Edison for its possible role in the fire. According to the CPUC, infrastructure near the area may have suffered a malfunction near ground zero of the blazes two minutes before they began. 

Chris Thompson, a spokesperson for SCE, said there were 13,000 customers who initially lost power, mostly in Malibu, and that number has been reduced to 9,000. 

Thompson also said that it would take time for crews to replace telephone poles destroyed by the fire, especially in canyon areas where they would need to bring in a helicopter. "We can't just drive poles in on a truck to those areas," he said.

The Woolsey Fire began Thursday afternoon in Ventura County and spread quickly thanks to strong Santa Ana winds that pushed the fuel-hungry fire toward dry brush that hasn't burned for years. Several multi-million dollar mansions along with mobile homes have been consumed by the fire, Cal Fire said. The fire jumped Pacific Coast Highway about 10 p.m. Friday night as it headed toward Malibu Colony. 

The National Park Service for the Santa Monica Mountains tweeted that the famed Western Town at Paramount Ranch, where hundreds of TV and movies have been filmed, including HBO's "Westworld" had been burned. Officials said they were unsure to the extent of the damage to the famed movie ranch. 

 

Concerns over radioactive dust kicked up by the fire were also raised by residents, since the fire had burned through the former Rocketdyne site at the Santa Susana field. A representative from the state's Department of Toxic Substances and Control told the crowd that a team had been sent to the area and had so far found no evidence that radioactive ash posed a threat. 

Officials with the Los Angeles County say information on the fire can be found at www.lacounty.gov/woolseyfire. Malibu established a website as well, updating fire information at www.malibucity.org/woolsey

The Federal Aviation Administration tweeted Sunday to remind drone operators that they could face severe civil penalties and potential criminal prosecution if they flew a drone over fire areas.

President Donald Trump announced Monday night that he had approved an expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of California requested by Gov.  Jerry Brown. 

“Wanted to respond quickly in order to alleviate some of the incredible suffering going on. I am with you all the way. God bless all of the victims and families affected,” Trump said.

Photos: Getty Images, Kris Ankarlo, Corbin Carson, Andrew Mollenbeck, Monica Rix

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