Woolsey Fire, Now 93,000+ Acres, Is 30% Contained Despite Strong Santa Ana Winds – Update

By Patrick Hipes, Dominic Patten, Erik Pedersen, Bruce Haring

Mike Nelson/Shutterstock

UPDATED: MONDAY, 7:40 PM: California officials said Monday night that the Woolsey Fire burning in Los Angeles and Ventura counties has reached 93,662 acres and is now 30% contained, estimating the deadly fire could be fully contained by Thursday.

New data by Cal Fire estimated that 435 structures have been destroyed in the blaze, which began last Thursday. That damage assessment is only 15% complete, meaning that total likely will grow. Some mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted this evening, including the Westlake area of Thousand Oaks, with residents in West Hills in the City of Los Angeles and Bell Canyon in unincorporated Ventura Canyon where many homes were destroyed able to return beginning at 7:30 PM PT.

Many road closures remain in place. Officials say the Santa Ana winds that have driven the fire will persist through the night, with gusts around 30 mph expected.

A total of 3,592 personnel have fought the fire, which has burned 83% of all National Parks Service land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, according to Cal Fire.

UPDATED, MONDAY, 11 AM: Firefighters continue to gain ground on the Woolsey Fire burning in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, with containment now at 20 percent. The fire has burned 91,572 acres, and has destroyed an estimated 370 structures. Fifty-seven-thousand structures remain threatened. Repopulation continues in the Agoura Hills and Westlake Village communities. At last word, 149,000 people remained under evacuation orders.

UPDATED, SUNDAY 8:35 PM: With the wind expected in the next couple of days, officials are bracing themselves for more problems fighting the California wildfires that have been affecting Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. However, there has been progress in fighting these fires — particularly the Woolsey Fire which has been the most difficult to contain.

Cal Fire tweeted that the Woolsey Fire is now 85,500 acres and is 15% contained. While the LA County Sheriff has announced that repopulation has begun for parts of Agoura Hills and Westlake Village.

According to the LA County Sheriff Facebook page, the repopulation will begin tonight at 9 PM. The California Highway Patrol will be reopening the Interstate 101 Freeway. Northbound lanes from Valley Circle Boulevard, with the off-ramps at Chesebro Road, Kanan Road, Reyes Adobe Road, and Lindero Canyon will reopen at 9 PM while southbound lanes of Interstate 101 Freeway will open at 10 PM, with the same off-ramps to southbound traffic.

The only areas in the impacted fire zone of Los Angeles County that we are able to safely repopulate at this time are the Agoura Hills and Westlake Village communities, between Chesebro Road and Westlake Boulevard and north of the 101 Freeway. No access will be available to neighborhoods south of the 101 Freeway.

UPDATED, SUNDAY 2:45 PM: The fires have caused Santa Monica and Beverly Hills to cancel all outdoor activities as a result of the smoky conditions.

KCAL, also known as CBS LA, tweeted that the two cities have decided to cancel events. “Santa Monica has canceled
the Santa Monica Farmers Market and all community and cultural services activities (including the swim center, skate park, field permits and tennis at Peed Park),” they wrote. They also added that the City of Beverly Hills has canceled all public outdoor activities.

In addition, Pepperdine University decided to close their Malibu and Calabasas campuses through the Thanksgiving holiday with classes resuming on November 26. Other campuses will remain open.

UPDATED, SUNDAY 9:50 AM: The Woolsey Fire is now 10% contained, but firefighters are wary of an anticipated increase in winds later today. Residents were also assured that recovery efforts will be underway as soon as it is safe.

UPDATED, SUNDAY 8 AM: Evacuation orders are being lifted in some Southern California fire areas, but the statewide death count from the California wildfires now stands at 25, making it tied for the deadliest fire in the state’s history.

Southern California’s Woolsey Fire now stands at 83,275 acres scorched and remains at 5% containment. Two deaths have been attributed to that fire, but most of the areas affected have not been explored. Some 57,000 structures are still threatened by the fires, with 177 already burned.

The following Ventura County areas have had evacuation orders lifted as of this morning:

  • Camarillo Springs (Hill Fire)
  • California State University Channel Islands (Hill Fire)
  • Dos Vientos (Hill Fire)
  • Vallecito Trailer Park (Hill Fire)
  • Newbury Park – South of Highway 101 to Lynn Road, between Reino Road and Lynn Road  (Woolsey Fire)
  • Thousand Oaks – East of Highway 23 to Erbes Road and north from Thousand Oaks Blvd to Sunset Hills Blvd (Woolsey Fire)
  • Thousand Oaks – West of Highway 23 between East Olsen Road and Sunset Hills Blvd (Woolsey Fire)
  • Simi Valley – Long Canyon, Bridal Path, Wood Ranch (Woolsey Fire)

The 101 Freeway, a main north/south corridor, remains closed in both directions at Valley Circle to Reyes Adobe.

Total firefighters battling the Woolsey Fire stands at 3,242, with 418 fire engines and 63 fire crews. There are also 19 helicopters. Santa Ana winds are expected to pick up today through Tuesday, presenting new problems for the firefighters.

UPDATED, Saturday 5:40 PM: During a press conference in Thousand Oaks on Saturday afternoon, officials gave updates on the current conditions at the Woolsey and Hill fires. Fire officials have reported that the Woolsey Fire is five percent contained.

The 101 near Malibu will remain closed with a possibility of re-opening tonight. Officials have also reported that two have been severely burned. Mandatory evacuations will stay in place for more than 265,000 residents in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Officials will prepare for strong winds Sunday through Tuesday which are expected to be 30 to 40 miles an hour. Cal Fire encourages residents to “must remain vigilant” as the winds will be more severe than in the past few days.

UPDATED, SATURDAY, 9 AM: The Woolsey Fire that has threatened communities in Southern California grew to more than 70,000 acres overnight, doubling in size despite calming winds. The fire is still 0 percent contained, according to officials, and evacuations are still ongoing. Approximately 95,000 people have been evacuated related to the Woolsey Fire.

Two deaths believed related to the Woolsey Fire have been confirmed, with bodies found in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway. Officials have been criticized for not evacuating the Malibu-adjacent Pepperdine University campus, choosing to shelter students in place.

Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties because of the Woolsey Fire and the nearby Hill Fire. President Donald Trump also approved an emergency declaration for the state. The north-south 101 Freeway, a major corridor in the state, remains closed in the area.

50 engine companies are battling the blaze, which officials described as existing in “extreme, tough” conditions.” Residents near the fires are asking the public to monitor official social media for updates on evacuation orders. Five cities have been evacuated, including Calabasas, Westlake Village, Hidden Hills, Agoura Hills and Malibu. Officials have not put an official total on affected structures, but there are estimates reported of 150-250 structures burned in the fire.

Current weather predictions indicate the current lull in the dry, warm Santa Ana winds is temporary, and will pick up tomorrow, exacerbating the problems faced by firefighters.

UPDATED, 7:30 PM:  The 101 freeway, a major north/south corridor, is now closed in both directions near Agoura Hills. More than 20 million people in the state remain under so-called “red flag” warnings, which indicate a combination of dry brush and warm winds spell a particularly dangerous fire potential. An estimated 250,000 people have been evacuated in Southern California and about 150 homes are believed destroyed. So far, the Woolsey fire has 0 percent containment.

UPDATED, 4:59 PM: Authorities have begun to focus firefighting efforts on the Topanga Canyon area as the Woolsey fire has more than doubled in size to 35,000 acres in mere hours. Local news reports say more than a quarter-million people are under evacuation orders and that at least 150 homes have been destroyed.

The latest neighborhood to be threatened in West Hills, where new evacuations are under way. See an updated list of evacuation orders below.

There still is zero containment on that fire as night falls, but Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said at a news conference that the Hill Fire is “holding at about 6,000 acres. “We’re making good progress on it, and we remain optimistic.”

Reed Saxon/Shutterstock

Thousand Oaks Mayor, whose city was crushed by the mass shooting at a local bar on Wednesday night, noted that no deaths or injuries have been reported in the fires. He noited that “75 percent of Thousand Oaks has been evacuated, adding, “That means some of the folks who were affected by the shooting have been asked to leave their homes.”

Authorities did not give updates on the number of structures lost as they focus on saving lives and property rather than doing damage assessment. Mandatory evacuations remain in place for Malibu, Hidden Hills, Calabasas, Agoura Hills and many nearby neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency in California, hours after Governor-elect Gavin Newsom did the same for Los Angeles and Ventura counties. He is active governor with Jerry Brown out of the state. Read Trump’s declaration in full below.

EARLIER UPDATE, 2:15 PM: The National Weather Service just extended its red flag warning for the valley and coastal areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties into Tuesday afternoon. That would mean six consecutive days of warnings as winds tonight are expected to hit 50 MPH.

Meanwhile, authorities now say the Woolsey Fire that is threatening Malibu has exploded to more than 14,000 acres with zero containment. Multiple homes have burned in the cities of Westlake Village and Oak Park, with many others still at risk, and KCBS-TV notes that some homes are burning in Malibu.

The Woolsey Fire jumped the 101 Freeway near Liberty Canyon overnight, and the 101 remains closed in both directions from Reyes Adobe Road in Agoura to Valley Circle Boulevard near Hidden Hills. More than 75,000 homes already have been evacuated, including all of Malibu, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and the celebrity enclave of Hidden Hills.

Deadline reached out to the film offices in Malibu and Agoura Hills, and we were referred to public information officers at their respective city halls. An official at City Hall in Agoura we contacted confirmed that the city has been evacuated but did not know if any filming was going on there leading up to the fires.

PREVIOUSLY, 9:42 AM: Just days after being elected Governor in his own right, Gavin Newsom has just declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles county and Ventura county due to the fires that are destroying properties and land and forcing evacuations from Malibu to Griffith Park.

More than 75,000 homes already have been evacuated.

As Jerry Brown is out of California right now, Newsom in his Acting Governor capacity made the proclamation “due to the effects of the Hill and Woolsey fires, which have destroyed homes, threatened critical infrastructure and caused the evacuation of residents.” Sad to say, with the increase in fires the past several years, this may become an all to frequent reality for Newsom once he is officially sworn in as governor.

Another Golden State powerhouse, Disney boss Bob Iger made his own proclamation online as a blaze threatened Griffith Park, where the fire is holding at 30 acres in heavy brush with steep and difficult terrain, according to the Los Angeles Fire department.

More than 127 LAFD firefighters are on the scene, but the fire has already led to the evacuation of some animals at the LA Zoo, which remains closed. However, the fire in that area appears to be under control.

We will update as events require. And listen to Bob, stay safe, those winds are blowing.

Peter DaSilva/Shutterstock

Earlier today, authorities held a news conference to give updates on the local fires. Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said the Hill Fire started at 2 PM Thursday and burned about 6,000 acres but now is moving into the footprint of the 2013 Spring Fire. That means resources can focus on the Woolsey Fire, which was at 10,000-plus acres as of 9:15 AM.

Lorenzen said “many hundreds” of personnel are on the fire line with many more “on order.”

Chief John Benedict of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said at the presser today that mandatory evacuations remain in place thoughout the cities of Agoura, Westlake Village and the tony enclaves of Calabasas and Hidden Hills, where many celebrities live.

Benedict said the most recent evacuation area is the area south of the 101 Freeway between the Ventura County line and Las Virgenes Canyon Road all the way to the Malibu coast. Everyone who spoke at the presser praised the first responders and pleaded with residents to heed evacuation orders.

One local resident told KCBS-TV this morning that Edison has been warning people in his area for about a year that it would cut off power as a precaution if fires came close, fearful of downed power lines starting new fires. So power has been off in the area since the overnight hours.

PREVIOUS UPDATED with news about Griffith Park fire: The Southern California beach city of Malibu and its surrounding areas are under mandatory evacuation orders this morning as one of two fires that started Thursday afternoon in the region spread massively overnight, fueled by Santa Ana winds and ultra-dry conditions.

Meanwhile, a new fire has broken out in Griffith Park near the Los Angeles Zoo. Since it was reported at 7:10 AM, crews have been working to contain it at 2-3 acres.

Malibu residents have been told to avoid the canyon routes out of the city, and Pacific Coast Highway is  jammed as residents got the early morning order to leave one of the region’s most tony cities. The northbound lanes of the city’s lone north-south artery is closed at Topanga Canyon Boulevard, and all four lanes are being used to allow southbound traffic as people try to evacuate before the flames arrive.

The fire overnight jumped the 101 Freeway in the western end of Los Angeles County, forcing a shutdown of the major artery after drivers in some cases were forced to make U-turns and drive the opposite direction to avoid flames.

Overnight, the Woolsey Fire reached the city of Agoura Hills and raced through Oak Park, in the adjacent Ventura County. That county is also facing danger from a second fire, the Hill Fire, which sparked Thursday very near the location of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks where 12 were killed.

As the Woolsey fire approaches Malibu, all areas south of the 101 Freeway from Ventura County line to Las Virgenes/Malibu Cyn, southward to the ocean, were told to leave immediately after the fire jumped the 101 at Liberty Cyn Rd and Chesebro Rd in nearby Agoura Hills. The 101 is now closed in both directions from Las Virgenes to Reyes Adobe, an eerie site on one of SoCal’s most traveled freeways.

Mandatory evacuations were already ordered for north of the 101 from Valley Vista to Reyes Adobe in the areas of Agoura Hills, Calabasas and Westlake Village, according to emergency officials.

President Donald J. Trump Approves California Emergency Declaration

Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that an emergency exists in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from wildfires beginning on November 8, 2018, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Butte, Los Angeles, and Ventura.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, limited to direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.

Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named David G. Samaniego as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2018/11/malibu-mandatory-evacuation-socal-fires-1202498934/