Residents of Malibu who were forced to evacuate because of the Woolsey Fire have begun returning to their homes while others received notice they could return by Monday, as the estimated date for full containment of the fire was moved back to Thursday.
Malibu schools are expected to remain closed at least through the Thanksgiving weekend, with officials of the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District noting the stress staffers, students and families are under and that three of the district’s four schools are in areas that remain under evacuation orders. A certified professional staff experienced in restoration will begin cleaning the schools while environmental specialists, industrial hygiene specialists and other experts ensure the campuses are safe and air quality is good when they reopen sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday and that air quality will be tested.
Since erupting Nov. 8 in Ventura County and quickly spreading into Los Angeles County, the fire has charred 96,949 acres and was 88 percent contained. The number of structures destroyed has been revised upward to 1,130, with 300 damaged and roughly 85 percent of the burn area assessment completed. The death toll stands at three and three firefighters have been injured.
Firefighters continued to mop up and patrol the fire zone and were expecting help from weakened winds and moderate to good humidity. But Ventura and Los Angeles County authorities are warning that rain is likely to hit Southern California by Wednesday or Thursday, raising the potential for mud and rock slides in the burn areas, especially along Highway 1 and the canyon roads.
On Saturday, Malibu residents started picking up their mail in downtown Los Angeles, and Disaster Assistance Centers were opened 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 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to a statement from the City of Malibu.
The Disaster Assistance Centers will be closed Sunday, but will open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Thursday and open again Friday and next Saturday, Nov. 24 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.
Meanwhile evacuation orders were lifted Saturday in the Malibu Colony Cove neighborhood from the ocean on the south, the Malibu City Limit on the north, Puerco Canyon Road on the east and Paradise Cove Road on the west, and for the Las Virgines Road/Malibu Canyon Road areas from the Malibu City limit on the south to Mulholland Highway on the north, with Mulholland Highway still closed westbound from Malibu Canyon Road and Latigo Canyon, Corral Canyon, Ramirez Canyon and Puerco Canyon roads remained closed north of PCH. Evacuation orders were lifted in the Topanga area from PCH to Mulholland Drive on Friday.
More residents of the Malibu Colony Cove area were notified they can return home at 2 p.m. Sunday if they live in an area bounded by the ocean on the south, Malibu City limit on the north, Paradise Cove on the east and Guernsey Avenue on the west. Latigo Canyon and Corral Canyon roads will be open from PCH to the Malibu City limit but areas north of those locations will remain closed.
Residents of Malibu Lakes, Broad Beach and Seminole Springs were notified that if conditions remain favorable they will be allowed to return to their homes Monday.
The areas of Malibu Lakes where residents can return at 3 p.m. Monday are between Mulholland Highway on the north, Bulldog Mountain Way on the south, Lake Shore Drive on the east and Shadow Creek Drive on the west. Mulholland Highway will remain closed eastbound at Cornell Road and westbound at Troutdale Road due to bridge damage.
Also at 3 p.m. Monday, residents of the Seminole Springs neighborhood can return if they live between Kanan Road on the north, Cadenhorn Drive on the south, Trousdale Drive on the east and Seminole Drive on the west. Westbound Mulholland Highway west of Seminole Drive and southbound Kanan Road south of Triunfo Canyon road will remain closed.
At 9 a.m. Monday, residents of the Broad Beach area of Malibu Colony Cove neighborhood can return in an area bounded by the ocean on the south, Malibu City limit on the north, Guernsey Avenue on the east and the Ventura County line on the west.
Pepperdine University 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.
The Los Angeles County Waterworks District No. 29 in Malibu and Las Virgenes Municipal Water District determined tap water is safe to drink and it is no longer necessary to boil tap water for drinking or cooking, officials said.
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.
— Pacific Coast Highway is closed southbound at the L.A. County line to Puerco Canyon Road;
— Puerco Canyon Rd. is closed at the Malibu city limit;
— Las Posas Rd. to L.A. County line is residents only, with no northbound traffic from PCH;
— Westlake Blvd. is closed Southbound from Potrero Rd.
— S. Las Virgenes is closed from Mulholland
— 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.
Residents were urged not to try to restore their own natural gas service but to contact SoCal Gas to do it. They were warned to be mindful as they drive through their neighborhoods that workers were still busy restoring services. “As traffic flow is introduced into these areas, people may be more focused on the damage and not aware of their immediate surroundings,” an official statement said.
“… 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.”
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