Woolsey Fire Burning Out Of Control; All Of Malibu, Hidden Hills Ordered To Evacuate
Editor's note: This story is no longer being updated. You can find our most recent coverage here.
Two separate wildfires broke out in Ventura County on Thursday afternoon, prompting the evacuations of tens of thousands of homes and destroying an unknown number of them, even as the community was reeling from a mass shooting in nearby Thousand Oaks the night before.
One of the blazes, the Woolsey Fire, crossed into Los Angeles County and jumped a major roadway between the two counties early Friday.
The two fires were being pushed by strong Santa Ana winds. A red flag warning has been issued through 10 p.m. Friday.
Acting California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Ventura and Los Angeles counties as hundreds of firefighters work to contain the raging fires. That comes a day after Newsom sent a letter to President Donald Trump and FEMA requesting federal aid in the state, which is also dealing with the Camp and Nurse fires burning in Northern California — that request was granted Friday.
"These statewide weather conditions are predicted to remain in California for several days," Newsom wrote in the letter. "As such, these fires will continue to grow and pose further threat to the health and safety of residents throughout California."
Here's the latest information on the Woolsley Fire and the Hill Fire as of 5 p.m. Friday.
The Woolsey Fire was the second fire to break out Thursday, but emergency officials said it has become the "priority fire" between the two blazes. It started just before 2:30 p.m. Thursday near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, south of the city of Simi Valley.
Erin McCoy from Oak Park had to evacuate Thursday night, along with her mother and sister who live in Agoura Hills. She said they stayed at a friend's house in Hidden Hills for a few hours before getting another evacuation order. They ultimately ended up sleeping in the parking lot of a Denny's diner.
Pepperdine University's Malibu campus was under a shelter-in-place order. Staff and students who were on campus Friday morning were ordered to relocate to the Tyler Campus Center or the Firestone Fieldhouse.
Hope, a Pepperdine sophomore, told KPCC/LAist that she evacuated Friday afternoon. It took her nearly two hours to get from the campus to a gas station at Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset, just 9 miles away.
"I'm scared for the students that are still on campus, because a group of them haven't left," Hope said. "I'm scared for just the Malibu community."
Among those at the student center were a handful of student journalists with the school paper, who set up a makeshift newsroom in a hallway.
Madeleine Carr, the 20-year-old news editor of the Pepperdine Graphic, said students are still coping with everything that's happened over the past few days, but spirits have been pretty high.
"We have a piano in our cafeteria where most kids are, and someone from the music department is on the piano playing music and people are doing like a massive sing-a-long or they're playing board games. So you're just seeing students be kids almost," Carr said.
It was unclear when those students would be allowed to leave.
Conditions remained ripe for fire despite the wind dying down slightly in the late afternoon, Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said.
Before that, the wind was bad enough to force fire agencies to ground their aircraft, L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. Both men spoke at an afternoon press conference.
Another wind event is expected Sunday, which means little relief for firefighters, Osby said.
WOOLSEY FIRE: BY THE NUMBERS
"There has been no damage assessment due to the fast moving nature and heavy resource commitment," the Ventura County Fire Department said in an update. "Until an assessment occurs there will be no specific information on structures destroyed or damaged."
- 35,000 acres burned
- "Very significant" number of homes damaged or destroyed
- More than 200,000 residents and 75,000 homes under mandatory evacuation
- Containment is at 0%, and they don't know when it will be contained
- More than 400 firefighting personnel on scene, including two-thirds of the L.A. County Fire Department's personnel
Witnessed burning homes throughout Oak Park and Westlake Village this morning. Also witnessed some unbelievable bravery on the part of firefighters to save homes as well, and stop fires from spreading. #WoolseyFire @NBCLA pic.twitter.com/NveTIXUSAU— Jonathan Gonzalez (@JonathanNBCLA) November 9, 2018
WOOLSEY FIRE: THE BACKSTORY
The fire jumped the 101 Freeway in multiple places early Friday, closing the entire roadway at Liberty Canyon Road for a time.
Fire has jumped the 101 freeway at Liberty Canyon and is well established on the south side of the freeway.Avoid 101 of commuting, large back-ups behind closure pic.twitter.com/1BbrDUPgSj— VCFD PIO (@VCFD_PIO) November 9, 2018
At about 7 a.m., L.A. County fire officials tweeted an urgent safety message, saying the fire had jumped Chesebro Road and was heading to the ocean.
"Imminent threat! Malibu lakes residents must leave area immediately," officials said.
Just before 10:15 a.m., Malibu officials issued an evacuation order for the entire city. Less than two hours later, the city tweeted that the fire was burning out of control toward homes. "All residents evacuate now," officials said.
An evacuation center has been established at Palisades Charter High School, 15777 Bowdoin St. Large animals can be sheltered at the Zuma Beach parking lot, officials said.
"Residents should use PCH to evacuate and avoid canyon roads," city officials said. Power outages were reported in the Tuna Canyon and Civic Center areas of the city. Officials said traffic signals were out or intermittent on PCH from Topanga Canyon to John Tyler Drive.
At 12:45 p.m., the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the entire community of Hidden Hills was also ordered to evacuate "immediately" and advised residents to take Valley Circle Boulevard toward Chatsworth.
All four lanes of Pacific Coast Highway are being converted to send drivers south 10 Freeway in Santa Monica. Northbound travel is now prohibited in the area.
Shortly after 1 p.m., Erik Scott with the Los Angeles Fire Department posted this video of the Woolsey Fire.
The Hill Fire started just after 2 p.m. Thursday and has so far burned more than 6,000 acres. That number was revised down from earlier estimates that put it closer to 10,000 acres.
Speaking at a news conference Friday morning, authorities said fire activity was diminishing as the blaze burned into the footprint of the Springs Fire, which scorched the area in 2013. The blaze was threatening homes, commercial buildings, electrical infrastructure and a Navy satellite communications station, according to the most recent VCFD report.
Matt Goldfield and his adult son defied a mandatory evacuation order to protect his Thousand Oaks home Friday morning when the wind changed direction.
"The wind just happened to shift and it blew up this hill, took out a few homes up there," Goldfield said. "It was one of those scenes, my wife kept calling and saying, 'You gotta get out of there,' and it was like fire was all around us - four or five hundred yards. You know, these trees would have gone up, we would have been having to drive our cars probably through a fury of fire."
HILL FIRE: BY THE NUMBERS
- 6,100 acres burned
- 437 structures threatened
- 17,343 people have been evacuated
- No structures destroyed or damaged
- One firefighter injured
- Containment is at 0%
- About 450 firefighting personnel on scene
Mandatory evacuations have been called for the following areas:
- All of Monte Nido, north to Mulholland
- All of Topanga Canyon
- City of Malibu
- City of Hidden Hills
- South of 101 Freeway, east of Reino Road, north of Potrero Road, east to the L.A./Ventura County line
- Bell Canyon - All Areas
- Point Mugu Naval Base
- Camarillo Springs - All areas
- Vallecito Trailer Park - All areas
- California State University Channel Islands - All areas
- Dos Vientos -check map here for details
- South Coast -check map here for details
- Oak Park - entire community
- Thousand Oaks - Thousand Oaks Boulevard north to Sunset Hills, from Oak Park west to Highway 23
- West of Highway 23 - south of E. Olsen Road, north of Pederson Road
- South of Bard Lake, east of Highway 23
- All homes within the West Hills area of L.A. — west of Valley Circle Boulevard, south of Roscoe Boulevard and north of Vanowen Street
California Highway Patrol officials said the 101 Freeway within Ventura County has been reopened in both directions, but the L.A. County portion of the roadway is still affected.
Santa Monica officials have eased up on their parking restrictions to help people trying to evacuate fomr the fires.
Alert: To accommodate anyone from out of Santa Monica, all enforcement of "Preferential Parking Zones" will be suspended until further notice.— Santa Monica Police (@SantaMonicaPD) November 9, 2018
Road closures include:
- 101 Freeway in both directions at Lindero Canyon Road to Valley Circle Boulevard
- Pacific Coast Highway, all 4 lanes pushing traffic southbound
- 10 Freeway westbound closed, with traffic diverted into Santa Monica
- Borchard at Los Vientos Drive
- Lynn Road at Reino Road
- Potrero Road between Rancho Dos Vientos and S. Lewis Road
- South and East Kanan Road
- Westlake Boulevard at Kanan Road
- Marview Drive at Erbes Road
- Southbound 101 is closed between Wendy and Westlake boulevards/County Line
- Palisades High School - 15777 Bowdoin St, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
- Taft Charter High School (at capacity) - 5461 Winnetka Ave. Woodland Hills, CA 91364
- Pierce College - 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills, CA 91371
- Canoga Park Senior High School - 6850 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Canoga Park, 91303
- Borchard Community Center - 190 Reino Rd. Newbury Park, CA 91320
- Camarillo Community Center - 1605 East Burnley St. Camarillo, CA 93010
- Rancho Santa Susana Recreation Center - 5005 Unit C Los Angeles Ave. Simi Valley, CA 93063
- Thousand Oaks Teen Center (at capacity) - 1375 E Janss Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
- Goebel Adult Community Center (at capacity) - 1385 East Janss Rd. Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
The Hansen Dam Equestrian Center, 11127 Orcas Ave., is taking in large animals. Pierce College is at capacity for animals.
The city of Calabasas announced all city facilities were closed Friday, including City Hall, the library, senior center, and the Calabasas Tennis and Swim Center.
Evacuees were lined up outside this Calabasas Starbucks when it opened at 4:30AM. The power has been out for over an hour here but employees are still giving pastries to people inside. The parking lot is packed with cars that are filled with pets and luggage. @KPCC @LAist pic.twitter.com/NjBsTacl6r— Caleigh Wells (@cgrey307) November 9, 2018
Several universities in the area were also closed Friday, including Cal State Channel Islands, Cal Lutheran University, Moorpark Community College and Pepperdine University's Malibu and Calabasas campuses. A shelter-in-place order was issued at Pepperdine's Malibu campus.
The University has activated shelter-in-place protocols for the Malibu campus. All individuals on campus should relocate to Tyler Campus Center or Firestone Fieldhouse. Find your relocation site at https://t.co/7s7MFJw23t.— Pepperdine University (@pepperdine) November 9, 2018
More than a dozen school districts in Ventura County also closed due to the fires. A full list is available here.
WHERE TO FIND UPDATES ON BOTH FIRES:
- Ventura County Emergency Information
- Ventury County Fire Public Information Officer on Twitter
- Ventura County Fire Department on Twitter
- California Highway Patrol Moorpark on Twitter
- The National Weather Service Los Angeles on Twitter
- Cal State Channel Islands on Twitter
Ryan Fonseca, Brian Frank and Mike Roe contributed to this story.
7:58 p.m.: Updated numbers on Woolsey Fire, including new evacuation totals
7:20 p.m.: Updated with new mandatory evacuations for West Hills area of L.A.
5:16 p.m.: Updated with comments from fire chiefs Daryl Osby and Mark Lorenzen.
5:00 p.m.: Added new estimate of acres burned in the Woolsey Fire.
3:50 p.m.: This article was updated with stories of Woolsey and Hill Fire evacuees, as well as students sheltering in place at Pepperdine University.
12:50 p.m.: This article was updated with the latest warning from Malibu city officials.
12:04 p.m.: This article was updated with the latest information on evacuations and road closures.
11:32. a.m.: This article was updated with latest acreage from Woolsey Fire.
10:10 a.m.: This article was updated with information about actions from acting Governor Gavin Newsom and a red flag warning issued for the region.
9:17 a.m.: This article was updated with the latest information on the two fires.
9:02 a.m.: This article was updated with the latest information on road closures.
8:15 a.m.: This article was updated with new information about evacuations in Malibu.
7:56 a.m.: This article was updated with information about power outages in Malibu and new orders for Pepperdine University.
7:50 a.m.: This article was updated with information about closures in the city of Calabasas.
7:39 a.m.: This article was updated with new evacuation orders.
7:14 a.m.: This article was updated with new evacuation orders and information about evacuation centers.
This article was originally published at 6:30 a.m.
Hey, thanks. You read the entire story. And we love you for that. Here at LAist, our goal is to cover the stories that matter to you, not advertisers. We don't have paywalls, but we do have payments (aka bills). So if you love independent, local journalism, join us. Let's make the world a better place, together. Donate now.