Thanksgiving break came early for thousands of students in California, but the days off were no cause for celebration. Three school districts in Ventura County have closed to make repairs and clean up after the Woolsey fire swept through the area.
“We lost everything,” said Rachel Bailey after she stepped out of her Volvo SUV and saw what was left of her family’s four-bedroom home.
Bailey and her partner, David Carr, were vacationing in Mexico when the Woolsey fire broke out. They flew back Monday to see what was left of their street in the Oak Forest Mobile Estates in Westlake Village.
Home after home in Bailey’s pocket in the canyon was leveled.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said the Woolsey fire is among the largest blazes on record in the county dating back 100 years. The fire has torn through almost 150 square miles of the county land, from Bell Canyon to the Pacific Ocean in Malibu.
The devastation in Malibu Creek State Park is extensive.
Much of the landscape is charred black, although the campground and parking lots remain intact. The fire swept through the area at tremendous speed, turning much in its path into ash.
The Woolsey fire burned about 83% of national park land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a stunning loss of a cherished open space area for Southern California.
The Santa Monica Mountains, which stretch from Hollywood Hills to Point Mugu in Ventura County, have long offered Southern Californians a respite from the city below with the range’s array of hiking trails, waterfalls and rock pools. And its sprawling ranch land has given Hollywood real-world ties to the frontier life it exhaustively depicted on screen.
The Woolsey fire destroyed more than 400 structures but also took a deep toll on landmark areas of the mountain areas.
Firefighters battling the Woolsey fire responded Tuesday morning to a flare-up in Carlisle Canyon, the Boney Mountain area and Lake Sherwood, an unincorporated community in the Santa Monica mountains.
Officials are asking residents to be prepared to evacuate as winds pick up. A red flag warning was extended through Wednesday evening. Road closures are expected in the Yerba Buena area.
Brian McGrath, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said multiple fire engines, air tankers and helicopters are responding to the fire, which has sent thick plumes of white smoke into the area. McGrath encouraged residents to stay away.