Firefighters facing the state’s deadliest and most destructive blaze on record will get a slight reprieve Monday from the winds that have been complicating the battle since the disaster first ripped through Butte County last week, authorities said.
A red-flag warning that has been in effect for days — signifying a potent mix of heat, dry air and winds that could explode a small fire into a deadly conflagration — was set to expire Monday morning, the National Weather Service said.
But as commanders warned fire crews during their morning briefing at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico on Monday, that doesn’t mean the fight against the Camp fire is anywhere near won.
The Woolsey fire has charred 91,572 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and was 20% contained as of Monday morning, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials.
A lack of wind over the weekend allowed firefighters to gain significant ground and put containment lines into place. However, officials are expecting Santa Ana winds to kick up Monday and gain strength through Tuesday, which could lead to extreme fire behavior, said Cal Fire Division Chief Chris Anthony.
Northeast winds are expected to blow 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 55 mph in Los Angeles, according to the National Weather Service.
The grim search for more victims of the fire that swept through Paradise, Calif., will continue today.
The fire has already claimed 29 lives. But the number could continue to grow. On Sunday, authorities said, there were 228 people whose whereabouts were unknown.
The search has been hampered by the active fire still burning in the area. Through much of the weekend, the ground remained too hot for cadaver dogs to tread, said Butte County Sheriff-Coroner Kory Honea
Residents in portions of the Woolsey fire evacuation area have been advised to boil their tap water before drinking it or using it to cook.
The boil-water notice was issued Sunday night for Los Angeles County Waterworks District No. 29’s Point Dume and Encinal Canyon service areas and Las Virgenes Municipal Water District customers south of Westlake Village, east of the Ventura County line, north of Malibu and west of Corral Canyon.
Officials said customers within the affected areas should either use bottled water or boil tap water for one minute prior to its use for drinking, brushing teeth and cooking.
Both of the state’s major utility companies have submitted incident reports detailing equipment problems moments before two deadly fires started Thursday.
Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric Company told the California Public Utilities Commission they experienced power outages in areas near the origins of the Woolsey and Camp fires minutes before the blazes began.
The utilities commission said it is including both reports in its investigation “to assess the compliance of electric facilities with applicable rules and regulations in fire-impacted areas,” spokeswoman Terrie Prosper said in a statement.
Edison said in its report that a circuit in the utility’s Chatsworth substation “relayed’ at 2:22 p.m. on East Street and Alfa Road, the same area where the Woolsey fire broke out. It was reported “out of an abundance of caution,” the report said.
Steve Conroy, an Edison spokesman, said the utility is required to submit a report to the CPUC “any time there’s any kind of incident that may or may not have anything to do with the event.”
All lanes of the 101 Freeway were reopened late Sunday between Valley Circle and Reyes Adobe Road, officials said.
However, offramps from Valley Circle to Liberty Canyon Road will remain closed until further notice.
All lanes of southbound US-101 are now OPEN from Reyes Adobe Rd. to Valley Circle. All off-ramps from Liberty Canyon Rd. to Valley Circle will remain closed until further notice. #WoolseyFirepic.twitter.com/27KLQXV5sn