Firefighters worry as Santa Ana winds threaten to feed Woolsey blaze in Ventura and L.A. counties
Los Angeles County coroner’s workers recover a body at a burned home in the 32000 block of Lobo Canyon Road in Agoura Hills on Wednesday.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Residents and volunteers bring in supplies for people in the Paradise Cove area of Malibu. Surfboards, kayaks, small motor boats and stand-up paddleboards were used to get supplies from the boat to shore.(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
A man ferries cases of water by surfboard to help residents in the Paradise Cove area of Malibu.(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
Residents and volunteers who traveled by yacht from Redondo Beach come ashore with water and other supplies to help people in the Paradise Cove area of Malibu.(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
David Carr cries as he hugs his partner Rachel Bailey as they stand at their home in the Oak Forest Mobile Estates in Westlake Village destroyed in the Woolsey Fire. “I loved this house,” David Carr said.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
“We lost everything,” said Rachel Bailey. Bailey and her partner, David Carr, were vacationing in Mexico. They flew back Monday and saw what was left of their street in Oak Forest Mobile Estates in Westlake Village.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
A flare-up from the Woolsey fire creates a large plume Southeast of Lake Sherwood in Westlake Village Tuesday morning.(KTLA)
LA County firefighter Battalion 13 Captain Victor Correa helps put out hotspot in a neighborhood on Harvester road in Malibu.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Bell Canyon residents wait for their name to be called after adding it to a list, to be escorted by police to their homes. If their homes were intact, they were given 10 minutes to retrieve important items, or the same time to view damage from the Woosley Fire.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
9-year-old Landon Quirk came with his father Trevor Quirk to help search through the rubble of a friend’s home in the Seminole Springs mobile home on Mulholland Drive in Agoura Hills.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Landon Quirk holds an object while searching through the rubble of a friend’s home in the Seminole Springs mobile home park.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. County Sheriff’s cruise the Seminole Springs mobile home park on Mulholland Drive in Agoura Hills.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Seminole Springs Mobile Home resident Barbara Sottile walks past homes of friends destroyed in the fire.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
AGOURA HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 12, 2018. Seminole Springs Mobile Home resident Barbara Sottile takes a photo of a rainbow created by spraying water on homes destroyed in the development on Mulholland Drive in Agoura Hills.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighter Adam Rodriguez from Eloy, Ariz., sprays foam on a hot spot in a home on Mulholland Drive in the Malibu Hills that was destroyed by the Woolsey fire.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters from the L.A. County Fire Department put out a flare-up along Pacific Coast Highway across the street from the Malibu Beach RV Park on Monday morning.(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
Keith Clark, left, and Shane Clark sift through the rubble of Shane Clark’s Bell Canyon home, which was consumed by the Woolsey fire.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter works to put out hot spots in and around structures destroyed by the Woolsey fire in Bell Canyon on Sunday.(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Paullette Koenig hugs neighbor Gai Farbenbloom after both lost their homes at the Seminole Springs mobile home park in Malibou Lake.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
A Southern California Edison employee hoses down a hot spot off Kanan Road on Nov. 10. The crew was checking for hot spots around power lines.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
A Los Angeles County Firefighter fights a structure fire at Camp 13, an inmate fire crew camp run by the Los Angeles County Fire Department off Decker Road above Malibu.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
A Los Angeles County firefighter runs while working to fight a structure fire at Camp 13 in Malibu.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
Anne Marie Mueller is notified by L.A. County Sheriff’s Officer Ernie Ferreras that her friends in Malibu are safe.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
A man stands in the middle of the street at the Seminole Springs mobile home park in Malibou Lake.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Matt Sexton goes through the rubble from his house in Seminole Springs.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Michael Quane of El Segundo came to the El Porto area of Manhattan Beach to surf against the backdrop of billowing smoke from the Woolsey fire over Santa Monica.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Mark Cassar, at the entrance of his brother’s Westlake Village home his father built in 1990. The home was destroyed in the Woolsey fire.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Garet Anzalone, 23, is tearful as he goes through his grandmother’s burned-out property in a mobile home park in Westlake Village.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
David Spence, left, with friend Eric Winger, takes photos of his 1976 TR6 after the fire in a mobile home park in Westlake Village.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Lori Jackson, 52, looks for items that survived the fire in a mobile home park in Westlake Village.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
An American flag is melted on a burned-out car on property in a mobile home park in Westlake Village.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Garet Anzalone surveys his grandmother’s burned-out property in a mobile home park in Westlake Village.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
A home on Bell Canyon Boulevard in Bell Canyon was destroyed by the Woolsey fire.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles County firefighters extinguish a burning building at a residence off Kanan Road in Malibu on Saturday. The main house was undamaged.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
A scorched sign at the visitor center at Leo Carrillo State Beach, which was destroyed by the Woolsey fire.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
Cars parked in front of the ruins of a house destroyed by the Woolsey fire off Kanan Road in Malibu on Saturday.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times )
Los Angeles firefighters Ryan Miller, left, Justin Randolph and Kobe Sallstrom grab some brief rest at the corner of Flintlock Lane and Silver Spur Lane in Bell Canyon on Saturday.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles firefighter Brittney Bebek sprays hot spots on Hitching Post Lane in Bell Canyon on Saturday.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter requests more water pressure as a house burns from the Woolsey Fire along P.C.H. in Malibu.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters walk near homes that are threatened by the Woolsey fire in Malibu. This homes in the area are known as Native.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The Woolsey fire bears down on Pepperdine University.(Calvin B. Alagot / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter walks towards his engine after trying to prevent the Woolsey fire from overtaking structures in Malibu.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Bell Canyon residents Kathleen and Eric Lee, left, watch the Woolsey fire at the mouth of Bell Canyon after evacuating.(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)
Bell Canyon residents Ann and Roger Bloxberg watch the Woolsey fire at the mouth of Bell Canyon after evacuating.(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)
A resident packs up his car as the Woolsey fire bears down on Dume Drive in Malibu.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Employees of a nearby confectionery use rakes and shovels to battle the Woolsey fire along Agoura Road in Westlake Village.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
The Woolsey fire burns near homes in West Hills.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters fight to save the home of Will Buckley on Dume Drive.(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)
Llamas are tied to a lifeguard stand on the beach in Malibu as the Woolsey fire approaches.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
A multi million dollar home on Dawn Meadow Court in the High Country neighborhood of North Ranch in Westlake Village continues to burn destroyed by fire Friday morning.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Oak Park resident Tom Duffy hoses hot spots on a burnt house on Wembly Avenue.(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)
David Spence returns to find his home and belongings burnt in the Oak Forest Estates mobile home park in Westlake Village.(Michael Owen Baker / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters try to save a burning home on Dapplegray Road in Bell Canyon.(Michael Owen Baker / For the Times)
Maria Narvaez evacuates her home on Almon Dr near Hillcrest in Thousand Oaks as Santa Ana winds continue to blow Friday morning.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Mayor and firefighter Rick Mullen surveys a house on fire in Malibu as the Woolsey fire continues its path to the coast.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters battle a house fire on Churchwood Drive as the Woolsey Fire burns in the Oak Park neighborhood early Friday morning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Resident Brett Hammond evacuates in Malibu as the Woolsey Fire approaches.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
An owl sits onthe beach in Malibu as the Woolsey fire approaches.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Horses are tied to a pole on the beach in Malibu as the Woolsey fire approaches.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Pacific Coast Highway backs up out of Malibu as the Woolsey fire forced evacuations Friday.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
Horses are turned loose at the top of Las Trancas Canyon in Malibu on Friday as the Woolsey fire approaches.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
Onlookers watch smoke from the Woolsey fire and take photos on Pacific Coast Highway looking southeast toward Malibu on Friday.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
The Woolsey fire approaches the top of Las Trancas Canyon Road on Friday morning.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
Smoke from the Woolsey fire darkens the sky over the Pacific Ocean near Malibu on Friday.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
Pacific Coast Highway backs up out of Malibu as the Woolsey fire forced evacuations Friday.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
Jennifer Carter protects her face from smoke outside her home on Almon Drive in Thousand Oaks where several homes have been destroyed by the wind driven Woolsey fire.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Residents with a home on Las Trancas Canyon Road watch as the Woolsey fire approaches their home Friday.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
A firefighter extinguishes brush threatening a home on Quinta Visa Dr and E Hillcrest Rd in Thousand Oaks early Friday morning.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
Maria Narvaez evacuates her home on Almon Dr. near Hillcrest in Thousand Oaks as Santa Ana winds continue to blow Friday morning.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Jesse Castro with Glendale Fire Dept shoots water into a home on Almon destroyed by the Woolsey fire.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter battles a car fire on Churchwood Drive as the Woolsey fire rips Oak Park early Friday.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Crews battle flames consuming a house on Churchwood Drive as the Woolsey fire tears through Oak Park early Friday.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Crews battle flames consuming a home on Churchwood Drive as the Woolsey fire rips through the Oak Park neighborhood early Friday.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
A giant plume of smoke from the Woolsey Fire rises above homes in Calabasas.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A resident evacuates his home in Thousand Oaks early Friday morning with only the clothes on his back. Residents were awoken in the middle of the night by mandatory evacuations from the Woolsey fire.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
Firefighters try to keep embers from spreading to houses off Wembly Avenue and Lindero Canyon Road Thursday night as the Woolsey fire rages.(Stuart W. Palley / For The Times)
Carolina Heuel, a resident of the Miramonte Palmeras Tierras condominium complex in Camarillo Springs, prepares to evacuate after loading her two cats and a cockatiel into her car.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A forecast that includes several days of gusting Santa Ana winds has fire officials worried about the possible spread of the 85,500-acre Woolsey fire straddling Ventura and Los Angeles counties, officials said Sunday.
The blaze, which has claimed two lives and forced more than 250,000 people from Malibu to Thousand Oaks to evacuate, was 15% contained as of Sunday night.
But expected wind gusts of 40 mph or stronger over the next several days have officials concerned the fire could spread in a quick and unprecedented fashion, and they urged residents who were sheltering in place to evacuate immediately.
“Maybe 10 or 20 years ago you stayed in your homes when there was a fire and you were able to protect them,” Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said. “We’re entering a new normal. Things are not the way they were 10 years ago.”
Shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday, a mandatory evacuation was issued for the entire city of Calabasas at the western end of the San Fernando Valley near the Ventura County line, as the winds continued to kick up.
The fire has destroyed more than 177 buildings, and about 57,000 structures are still threatened, officials said. But footage from television helicopters seemed to show much more widespread property damage, and Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby acknowledged the number of structures lost will increase once damage-assessment teams can better survey the area.
Osby and other fire officials remained focused on the potential for wind gusts to suddenly change the direction and behavior of the fire. Throughout the day, Osby said, firefighters had to battle flare-ups near Bell Canyon and the Pacific Coast Highway, and although they were able to keep spot fires from growing too large, there is still a fear that a rogue ember could get beyond containment lines.
The coming wind gusts could also severely reduce the effectiveness of aerial water and retardant drops, leaving firefighters to battle the flames solely from the ground, officials said.
Several parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties — including Malibu, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Hidden Hills, and sections of West Hills, Monte Nido, Gated Oaks and Topanga — remained under voluntary or mandatory evacuation order Sunday, officials said.
Fire officials repeatedly emphasized that residents who had insisted on sheltering in place, specifically those in Topanga Canyon, needed to evacuate immediately. Their presence, officials said, was interfering with firefighter operations.
Evacuation orders in some parts of Ventura County, including Camarillo Springs and sections of Newbury Park, have been lifted, said Sgt. Eric Buschow, a Ventura County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. Homes were also being threatened early Sunday in the West Hills neighborhood at the western edge of the San Fernando Valley.
Wildfires across California have scorched nearly 200,000 acres and killed 31 people in total in recent days, according to fire officials. The Camp fire in Butte County has left at least 29people dead and all but destroyed the city of Paradise.
With destructive fires burning in both the northern and southern parts of the state, Gov. Jerry Brown requested a presidential disaster declaration early Sunday.
“We have the best firefighters and first responders in the country working in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable. We’re putting everything we’ve got into the fight against these fires, and this request ensures communities on the front lines get additional federal aid,” Brown said in a statement. “To those who have lost friends and family members, homes and businesses, know that the entire state is with you. As Californians, we are strong and resilient, and together we will recover.”
Two fatalities were reported Friday afternoon in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway in Malibu, according to L.A. County sheriff’s officials. The bodies of two people were “severely burned inside of a stopped vehicle located on a long residential driveway,” authorities said. On Sunday, investigators said they believed the driver had become disoriented while trying to flee the fire and the vehicle was overtaken by flames.
Wagner was hospitalized with injuries related to smoke inhalation sometime Friday after he ignored an evacuation order and tried to fend off flames at a house he owned on Old Chimney Road in in Latigo Canyon, Peak said.
Peak said Wagner’s wife told him late Saturday night that the well-known surf shop owner was in an intensive care unit at a hospital, but he is expected to survive. Wagner’s house was destroyed, Peak said.
Several firefighters have also suffered minor injuries, Osby said.
On Sunday morning, Pepperdine University announced it would cancel classes and events on its Malibu and Calabasas campuses through Nov. 26. About 3,600 students have been sheltering in place at the university’s beachside campus, officials said.
From Saturday night into Sunday morning, firefighters were able to increase containment and battle hot spots flaring up in several areas, Osby said.
But with strong wind gusts forecast through Tuesday, Osby said he is concerned that the fire could prove much more dangerous in the days ahead.
“There’s a lot of fuel that has not burned,” Osby said, repeating others’ warnings to evacuate. “Your home can be rebuilt. We can’t bring your life back.”
On Sunday evening, a standing-room only crowd of more than 300, mostly people who had to abandon their homes, packed an auditorium at Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills.
The mood was polite, even grateful — with a prolonged standing ovation for the firefighters and police officers battling to save their homes.
But the weariness was obvious. After several days almost everyone was tired of staying in hotels, bunking in tight quarters with relatives or simply sleeping in their cars wherever they can find a safe place to park.
A groan went up about 40 minutes into the meeting when fire officials announced a mandatory evacuation of Calabasas.
Frankie Palmer, of Malibu, stood in the back of the room surveying the packed auditorium.
She fled her Point Dume home with her family and their two dogs, but she knows she’s luckier than so many of the people sitting in front of her.
Her house is safe and she’s been able to stay, relatively comfortably, with nearby family.
“We’re so fortunate that we’re safe and we don’t have to worry about hotel bills,” Palmer said, “I know not everyone has been so lucky.”
Early Sunday afternoon, L.A. County Fire Engineer Scott Pishe and other firefighters stood guard outside several multimillion-dollar homes on Malibu Crest Drive as air tankers and helicopters bombarded the slopes of Malibu Canyon with fire retardant and water.
Earlier in the day, flames had tried to make a run into a chute formed by the canyon, but the air attack had succeeded in keeping the fire at bay.
“If it had gotten into that chute, we would’ve been in trouble,” Pishe said. “All of that is because of the birds. The aircraft assault has been nonstop.”
In Bell Canyon, fire crews raced through the intersection of Bell Canyon Road and Valley Circle late Sunday morning to stamp out hot spots that flared up at the base of the road as reinvigorated Santa Ana winds began to blow.
A crowd of about 30 people stood at the corner, their cellphones out recording video and taking photos as firefighters hiked up the hillside beneath a cloud of thick smoke.
The crews, shouting instructions above the roar of a helicopter and sirens, trained their hoses on a palm tree as it erupted in flames. Bone-dry brush quickly caught fire like tinder, setting off a front of flames that inched toward a home at the top of a ridge.
Like an evil game of whack-a-mole, firefighters would extinguish one hot spot only to have another ignite.
Richard Levy, 62, president of the Bell Canyon community services district, mingled with other residents observing the battle. He estimated that about 35 houses had burned in his neighborhood.
“I took a couple who had just moved in in June to see their house,” he said. “A 5,600-square-foot house, and there was nothing left. It was traumatic for them. The wife cried.”
When the wildfire had first arrived in the neighborhood, Levy said he and the president of the local homeowners association had driven around and tried to put out fires on their own with garden hoses and whatever else was available. He recalled saving one house but then having to watch helplessly as the house next door ignited.
As he spoke, the crowd of onlookers erupted in cheers and applause as a helicopter dropped water on the ridge above.
Irene Shaffa, who lives across the street from Levy, said she has been staying at her business’ warehouse in Chatsworth with some neighbors since evacuating.
“We come back every day,” she said. “We have nowhere to go.”
Everyone who had gathered, she said, was hoping to get down the road to check on their home.
Shane Clark walked through the wreckage of his Bell Canyon home on Hitching Post Lane Sunday afternoon and sifted through the ash to salvage what he could. His mother, Joline Clark, stood and watched from the driveway as he scoured the space where the house used to stand.
Clark turned around, triumphant, and held up a large sword in the rubble with “winter is coming” engraved on the hilt. A “Game of Thrones” fan, he was happy to find a couple of pieces of memorabilia in the wreckage.
“I feel gratitude that the firefighters saved as much as they could,” he said. “I knew the house was gone. It’s certainly sad, but we will be able to rebuild.”
By Sunday afternoon, Zuma Beach in Malibu had become something of a way station for Malibu residents who had been forced to evacuate their homes but didn’t want to stray too far in the hopes that an evacuation order might be lifted.
About 8 a.m., Pam Whitman was walking her dog Trapper along the sands with a mask covering her face and a wooden walking stick in her right hand.
“We wanted to be close to home. We have evacuated to Zuma before,” said Whitman, a Realtor who has lived in Malibu for 40 years.
Whitman said she was worried about the dozens of parakeets her husband has raised in their home. The recreational vehicle she has been staying in was running low on gas, but Whitman said she doesn’t want to drive out of the area as authorities will deny reentry to anyone in an evacuation zone.
The area had become a dead zone for cellphone service, and most people were without power as of Sunday morning. Nearby, the charred husks of several homes and cars could be seen along Merritt Drive above Malibu High School. One of the few things that remained intact was a metal sign reading “Welcome.”
For some, battling the frustration of fighting a persistent fire on difficult-to-navigate terrain was setting in. About 10:30 a.m., several Long Beach firefighters could be seen lying in the grass near the driveway of a home that had been engulfed in flames only hours earlier.
Working with a fire crew from San Gabriel, they had snuffed out the blaze, but now one of their trucks had a flat tire. One firefighter with a bushy mustache and a Long Beach State hat was slurping down an energy drink as he looked out at the smoldering canyon.
“What day is it even?” he asked a colleague.
9:25 p.m.: This story was updated with new fire figures.
6:20 p.m.: This story was updated with new information from a town hall meeting in Woodland Hills.
5:50 p.m.: This story was updated with new information from fire officials.
4:05 p.m.: This story was updated with additional comments from residents in the fire zone.
3:10 p.m.: This story was updated with more information from Malibu.
12:35 p.m.: This story was updated with additional reporting from Malibu.
11:30 a.m.: This story was updated with additional information about evacuations, injuries suffered by a Malibu city councilman and potential looting in evacuation areas.
This story first published at 10:35 a.m.
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