Residents of Malibu forced to evacuate because of the Woolsey Fire were returning to their homes Saturday and getting some vital services back, as firefighters battled the huge blaze for a 10th day.
Since erupting Nov. 8 in Ventura County and quickly spreading into Los Angeles County, the fire has charred 98,832 acres and was 82 percent contained with full containment expected Monday. It has destroyed at least 836 structures and damaged 242 others, with about 70 percent of the burn area assessment complete.
Malibu residents will be able to pick up their mail Saturday in downtown Los Angeles, and Disaster Assistance Centers will open to help residents impacted by the nearly 100,000-acre blaze.
Customers were reminded to bring proper photo ID to obtain their mail at the USPS Facility at 7101 S. Central Ave. between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to a statement from the City of Malibu.
The Disaster Assistance Centers will be open Saturday from 1 to 8 p.m., closed Sunday, open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Thursday and open again Friday and next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They are located at the former Malibu Courthouse at 23525 Civic Center Way, and at the Conrad L. Hilton Foundation, 30440 Agoura Road, Agoura Hills.
President Donald J. Trump — who initially lashed out at California’s forest-management policies as a cause of the destructive blazes in Southern and Northern California — arrived in the state to “meet with individuals impacted by the wildfires,” according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters.
Air Force One touched down at Beale Air Force Base north of Sacramento at 9:50 a.m., and Trump flew from there to Chico Municipal Airport at around 10:55 a.m. He then rode in a motorcade to Paradise, arriving at 11:35 p.m. to tour an RV park.
A White House spokeswoman, reached at 11 a.m. Saturday, would not deny or confirm that Trump would visit Southern California — possibly to visit wildfire victims here, or to visit survivors of the Nov. 7 shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks.
“Heading to California with @GOPLeader Kevin McCarthy, @RepLaMalfa, and @KenCalvert. Look forward to being with our brave Firefighters, First Responders and @fema, along with the many brave People of California. We are with you all the way — God Bless you all!” Trump tweeted at about 8:45 a.m. Saturday.
Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom welcomed the president at Beale, putting aside policy differences and harsh criticism from both sides in the past.
“We welcome the president’s visit to California and are grateful for the quick response to our aid requests,” Brown and Newsom said in a joint statement posted to both of their Twitter accounts. “Now is the time to pull together for the people of California.”
Meanwhile, evacuation orders have been lifted for all areas of Malibu east of Corral Canyon, except canyon roads and Pepperdine University. School officials announced the campus would be without power for 12 hours beginning at 8 a.m. Monday so Southern California Edison can replace four transmission poles damaged in the fire.
Evacuation orders were lifted in the Topanga area from Pacific Coast Highway to Mulholland Drive on Friday.
Evacuation centers in Los Angeles County were located at Pierce College, 7100 El Rancho Dr. in Woodland Hills; and at Palisades Charter High School, 15777 Bowdoin St. in Pacific Palisades.
Some road restrictions remained in place in the affected areas, however, and residents of Piuma Canyon were advised they would need to access their homes via Cold Canyon Road or the eastern entrance to Piuma Canyon Road, with no access to the area allowed from Malibu Canyon Road.
— No access is available to neighborhoods south of Mulholland Hwy.;
— Pacific Coast Highway is closed at the L.A. County line to Puerco Canyon Rd.;
— Puerco Canyon Rd. is closed at the Malibu city limit;
— Las Posas Rd. to L.A. County line is residents only;
— Westlake Blvd. is closed Southbound from Potrero Rd.
— S. Las Virgenes is closed from Mulholland
— Sherwood at the Westlake City limit. Blocking access
— S. Kanan is closed at Malibu View Dr.
— Everything is closed south of Mulholland Hwy & West of Cornell Rd.
— L.A. County public works has closed Chesebro Road at the bridge between Driver Ave and Balkins.
Fire officials warned people returning to their homes to beware of changing fire conditions and adhere to road closures and shifting evacuation zones.
“Burned out power poles, burned and damaged homes, debris-filled roadways, broken gas lines and burned guard rails pose serious safety hazards to residents attempting to return to the area,” according to a statement from fire officials.
“… The Woolsey Fire is unlike any previous fire in the Santa Monica Mountains due to the vast destruction and devastation to homes and critical infrastructure.”
The death toll from the Woolsey Fire rose to three on Wednesday with the discovery of a charred body in a burned-out home in the 32000 block of Lobo Canyon Road near Agoura Hills. Family members said the victim was 73-year-old Alfred Deciutiis, a retired oncologist. His death has been listed by fire officials as one of three related to the fire.
The other two victims were found on Nov. 9 in a burned-out vehicle on a long driveway in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway. Authorities said they suspect the driver became disoriented amid the flames.
A firefighter from Washington state was injured Thursday when he was struck by a vehicle, apparently while resting or sleeping at a camp area along Pacific Coast Highway near Dear Creek Road in Ventura County. Two other firefighters were previously injured.
Weather conditions improved somewhat for firefighters Saturday, with only mild winds, temperatures a couple degrees cooler and higher humidity.