Santa Ana winds continued to plague firefighters battling the deadly Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties Tuesday as officials lifted some evacuations but kept full evacuations in place for the communities of Topanga and Malibu.
Meanwhile, the estimated date for full containment of the fire was pushed back from Thursday to Sunday, and a major flare-up was reported around 9 a.m. in the Westlake Village area, near Lake Sherwood in the Santa Monica Mountains, where a large plume of smoke was visible, along with active flames.
The following areas affected by the Woosley Fire were being reopened to businesses and residents, beginning at 9 a.m., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:
— Hidden Hills will be fully reopened, including all residences within the city limits. This includes the area west of Valley Circle Boulevard, east of Crummer Canyon Road, and north of the 101 Freeway to the northern city limits.
— Calabasas will have limited areas reopened that will include: west of Topanga Canyon Boulevard; northwest of Mulholland Highway; north of Stunt Road, east of Las Virgenes Road; east of the Lost Hills Road neighborhoods (including Lost Springs and Saratoga); and south of the Los Angeles/Ventura county line.
— Westlake Village will have limited areas reopened as follows: city limits on the west, from the intersection of Westlake Boulevard and Sycamore Canyon Drive north to the Ventura County and City of Agoura Hills boundaries.
— Agoura Hills will reopen its impacted areas from: Chesebro Road on the eastern border, and Agoura Road (north and south sides of the road) from Chesebro Road to the west.
“To accomplish this process, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is working with our public safety partners to open on-ramps and off-ramps of the Interstate 101 Freeway in the area,” the sheriff’s statement said. “The Fire Incident Command continues to monitor the active fire areas, as well as those areas remaining closed due to critical infrastructure concerns or safety hazards.”
Further information on safety conditions and repopulation will be updated at www.LACounty.gov/WoolseyFire.
Winds of 25 to 35 mph were forecast for Tuesday with gusts of 40 to 45 mph, National Weather Service Meteorologist Joe Sirard said. Those wind speeds are likely to drop to 25 to 30 mph Tuesday night into Wednesday with gusts to 40 mph.
The NWS extended its Red Flag Warning through 5 p.m. Wednesday for the Woolsey Fire area in Los Angeles and Ventura counties — except Malibu, where the Red Flag Warning is set to expire at 5 p.m Tuesday. High temperatures of 70s to low 80s are predicted through Wednesday with lows near freezing “in wind-sheltered areas,” Sirard said.
The latest Woolsey Fire update from Cal Fire had at least 435 structures destroyed, 24 structures damaged and the estimated number of structures still threatened at about 57,000.
The blaze had burned 96,314 acres and was 35 percent contained, with full containment not expected until Sunday, Cal Fire said. Two people who died on the fire were found inside a burned vehicle in a long driveway in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway.
“It’s the feeling of homicide detectives that the driver became disoriented and the vehicle was overwhelmed by the fire,” sheriff’s Chief John Benedict said.
In the city of Los Angeles, Red Flag parking restrictions ordered by the Los Angeles Fire Department were in effect in so-called Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones, barring automobile parking on narrow, hilly streets. Motorists should look for “No Parking” signs. For a map of those zones, go to www.lafd.org./news/woolsey-fire.
Three firefighters have been injured battling the Woolsey Fire.
Firefighters were focused on making sure any hot spots in Malibu Canyon don’t cross into Topanga Canyon because a falling ember has more than a 90 percent chance of igniting brush, authorities said.
Some 3,592 firefighters were assigned to battle the blaze, while, 22 helicopters worked from above, officials said. A total of 619 engines, 48 water tenders, 23 bulldozers and 57 hand crews were sent into the battle, Cal Fire reported. Crews from other areas, including Orange County and Arizona, also sent firefighters and equipment to aid the battle.
The continuing danger prompted Los Angeles County officials to re-issue a warning to residents in evacuated areas to stay away until conditions are deemed safe.
A community meeting for Malibu-area evacuees was scheduled for Tuesday night at Santa Monica High School’s Barnum Hall. Malibu City Councilman Skylar Peak has asked people to refrain from attempting to get back into Malibu by boat.
The sheriff’s department has repeatedly tried to reassure residents that their homes would be safe from looters, with 500 to 600 deputies on 12-hour rotational shifts.
Northbound and southbound Ventura (101) Freeway from Valley Circle Boulevard remained open. Pacific Coast Highway remained closed to all traffic from the Ventura/Los Angeles County line to Sunset Boulevard.
The California Public Utilities Commission was investigating Southern California Edison for its possible role in the fire.
According to CPUC, electrical infrastructure may have suffered malfunctions near ground zero of the blazes two minutes before they began.
The agency also is investigating PG&E for its possible role in the Camp Fire in Butte County, which has burned 113,000 acres and resulted in at least 42 deaths, making it the deadliest fire in California history.
The Woolsey Fire — which began Thursday afternoon — has forced the evacuation of at least 75,000 homes and an estimated 265,000 people in L.A. and Ventura counties as it consumed multimillion-dollar mansions and mobile homes.
In Malibu, Pepperdine University said 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. City officials said there will likely be intermittent power outages due to weather and fire conditions.
The Federal Aviation Administration sent a tweet reminding drone operators that they could face severe civil penalties and potential criminal prosecution for flying drones over fire areas.
Officials with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area are trying to account for the 13 mountain lions they are tracking with GPS collars. The park is closed due to wildfire danger.
In an about face from a Twitter attack last week against what he called California’s forest management, President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he has approved an “expedited request” for a major disaster declaration for California.
“Wanted to respond quickly in order to alleviate some of the incredible suffering going on. I am with you all the way. God bless all of the victims and families affected,” Trump said.
Firefighters made progress on the much smaller Hill Fire north of Malibu and south of Simi Valley in Ventura County. That wildfire, which has consumed about 4,500 acres and destroyed two structures, was 90 percent contained. No civilians or firefighters were killed or injured and full containment was expected Wednesday.
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