Despite the return of threatening Santa Ana winds, a combined force of firefighters battling the deadly Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties was able to hold the blaze within containment lines Sunday, but officials warned that unburned areas in that footprint and to the south continued to pose danger.
“To my understanding, we have lost no structures today,” Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters at a late afternoon briefing.
Osby said there were flare-ups in several canyons as winds kicked up, but none outside the footprint of where the fire already had burned.
Osby credited the Los Angeles Fire Department with keeping areas to the south “buttoned up” employing some 50 engines on the fire’s flank to keep it from spreading south of Mulholland Highway into Pacific Palisades.
The fire chief said the fire was 10 percent contained by lines of cleared vegetation and stuck to an estimate that it had burned 83,275 acres. Osby said “better intel” would be available in the morning.
A estimated 57,000 structures were threatened and 177 were destroyed, with hundreds more considered likely.
Osby told the gathered media that crews were working around the clock to update those numbers. He said no new figures yet, but he indicated one thing was certain:
“That number will increase,” Osby said.
He and others expressed frustration with residents who failed to evacuate, saying they were hindering firefighters, and urged residents to stay away.
“Los Angeles County officials have not lifted evacuation orders,” Los Angeles sheriff’s Cmdr. Scott Gage said.
Osby warned residents evacuating to be careful of landslides and to watch out for many downed power lines that could still be live.
And despite messages to the contrary on social media, officials are not escorting residents back into the evacuated areas to retrieve medications, according to Los Angeles police Lt. Eric Bixler.
Ventura County officials expected to lift some evacuation orders Sunday evening, but Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said, “More evacuations will likely come.”
For residents waiting and watching to hear about their homes, law enforcement offered reassurances about patrol presence.
There were “zero incidents of looting or burglary in the affected areas,” Bixler said.
Sheriff’s deputies have been put on 12-hour rotational shifts, with hundreds of deputies patrolling the affected areas.
Osby said fire behavior and wind conditions are likely to be the same Monday.
Winds forecast to peak at up to 50 miles per hour are expected to be blow for the next three days.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Curt Kaplan said Sunday that the winds will steadily increase to 50-60 mph in the mountains with gusts of up to 70 mph. A Red Flag Warning remained in effect for Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Tuesday, when winds will be strongest in the mornings and early afternoons, giving firefighters a nightly reprieve.
The badly burned bodies of two people were found inside a vehicle in a long driveway in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway.
At least three firefighters were injured battling the blaze, authorities said.
Osby acknowledged firefighters had suffered minor injuries, in the category of sprains or muscle pulls.
Malibu City Councilman Skylar Peak said more than 50 homes have been lost in the Point Dume area, and more than half the city was without electricity Sunday.
Officials said City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner was recuperating at a local hospital from conditions related to his efforts to save his home on Friday night during the Woolsey Fire.
The fire — which began Thursday afternoon — has forced the evacuation of at least 75,000 homes and an estimated 265,000 people in both counties as it indiscriminately consumed multimillion-dollar mansions and mobile homes. The cause remained under investigation, Cal Fire said.
Mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect in the city of Malibu and communities including Hidden Hills, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Topanga, Westlake Village, Oak Park and Bell Canyon. Other mandatory evacuation areas include Liberty Canyon west to Decker Canyon and south to Pacific Coast Highway; Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon east to Decker Canyon and west to PCH; south of Highway 101, east of Reino Road, north of Potrero Road, East to the Los Angeles/Ventura County Line; West Hills, west of Valley Circle Boulevard with border to the north at Roscoe Boulevard and to the south at Vanowen Street; in Thousand Oaks, Thousand Oaks Boulevard north to Sunset Hills, from Oak Park west to Highway 23; and west of Highway 23, south of Olsen Road, north to Pederson Road.
Evacuation centers are open at the following locations. (The centers in Camarillo and Newbury Park will allow evacuees to bring small animals in crates)
— Canoga Park High School, 6850 Topanga Canyon Blvd.;
— Camarillo Community Center, 1605 E. Burnley St.;
— Borchard Community Center, 190 Reino Road, Newbury Park;
— Palisades High School, 15777 Bowdoin St., Pacific Palisades;
— Pierce College, 7100 El Rancho Dr., Woodland Hills (entrance off Desoto Ave.)
— Rancho Santa Susana Recreation Center, 5005 Unit C Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley;
Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills has reached capacity, along with three evacuation centers in Thousand Oaks in Ventura County, including Goebel Senior Adult Center, Thousand Oaks Teen Center and Thousand Oaks Community Center.
Pacific Coast Highway remained closed to all traffic from the Ventura/Los Angeles County line to Sunset Boulevard. The Ventura (101) Freeway was closed between Reyes Adobe and Valley Circle.
The California Highway Patrol was hoping to reopen the freeway in both directions sometime Sunday, however Malibu officials said off-ramps from Reyes Adobe to Parkway Calabasas will remain closed.
Pepperdine University in Malibu, which lifted a shelter-in-place order that had been in effect Saturday, announced Sunday that the school’s Malibu and Calabasas campuses would remain closed through Thanksgiving.
All Malibu schools in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District will remain closed until at least Thursday, the district announced.
The City of Malibu reported that all mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect and no one will be permitted to re-enter Malibu until further notice. Active fires were still burning in Malibu, and the city said there will likely be intermittent power outages due to weather and fire conditions.
Fire information for Los Angeles County can be found at www.lacounty.gov/woolseyfire .
Malibu also has established a website to update fire information at www.malibucity.org/woolsey .
The Las Virgenes Metropolitan Water District said residents might experience localized water outages or periods of low water pressure in parts of Calabasas, Agoura Hills and Westlake Village.
The superintendent of the Las Virgenes Unified School District in Calabasas said district leaders would meet Sunday to assess air quality and overall safety issues before issuing a district-wide email to families about the school schedule for the rest of the week.
The Conejo Unified School District, which includes parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, closed its schools Tuesday after inspectors found that at least two schools required major clean-up.
The expected return of the winds led to the re-imposition of the Red Flag Parking Restriction Program, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart, who warned that illegally parked vehicles will be towed.
Motorists should look for “No Parking” signs posted in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones. For a map of those zones, go to www.lafd.org./news/woolsey-fire.
The Los Angeles City Fire Department sent more than 25 fire companies to battle the Woolsey Fire, Stewart said. The U.S. Forest Service has dispatched two crews numbering 32 people to assist, according to the department.
Orange County Fire Authority officials say they have sent 20 engines to assist with the fires, and firefighters have come in from off time to ensure that every OCFA fire station is adequately staffed.
Crews from other agencies, including Arizona, were also assisting in battling the massive blaze, helping to evacuate residents and providing traffic control.
Los Angeles County fire strike teams and water dropping aircraft were working to contain the flames on or around the Pepperdine campus. No permanent structures have been lost, but video from the campus showed at least one vehicle and several bicycles scorched by flames.
The Federal Aviation Administration sent a tweet Sunday reminding drone operators that they could face severe civil penalties and potential criminal prosecution for flying drones over fire areas.
Evacuation centers for animals were opened Friday at Hansen Dam, 11770 Foothill Blvd. in Lake View Terrace, and Pierce College in Woodland Hills, but both reached capacity. A large animal evacuation center was established at the Zuma Beach parking lot in Malibu. Industry Hills Expo Center in the San Gabriel Valley was also offering shelter for horses from fire-affected areas. In Ventura County, Borchard Community Center at 190 Reino Rd. in Newbury Park was accepting dogs and cats.
The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Services was on site assisting as well.
Those in Ventura County needing assistance with large animals were advised to call (805) 388-4258.
Meanwhile, firefighters were reporting progress on the much smaller Hill Fire north of Malibu and south of Simi Valley. That wildfire, which has consumed about 4,500 acres and destroyed two structures was 70 percent contained.
No civilians or firefighters were killed or injured and full containment was expected Wednesday.
Governor Jerry Brown, responding to the Southern California fires and the Camp Fire in Northern California that has burned more than 100,000 acres and killed at least 23 people, announced Sunday he is requesting a “major disaster declaration” from President Donald Trump, in addition to an earlier emergency declaration signed by Trump that will provide federal funds to aid firefighters.