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Woolsey Fire Rises To 85K Acres, 15% Containment

Los Angeles County firefighters attack flames approaching the Salvation Army camps in Malibu Creek State Park during the Woolsey Fire on November 10, 2018 near Malibu, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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Editor's note: This post is no longer being updated. Go here for the latest on the fires.

Crews faced fierce winds Sunday as they entered their fourth day of battling the Woolsey and Hill fires.

By Sunday night, the Woolsey Fire has burned more than 85,500 acres, destroyed 177 buildings, has been linked to two civilian deaths and was only 15 percent contained. The much smaller Hill Fire burned more than 4,500 acres and was 70 percent contained. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby was optimistic about the progress of Sunday's firefighting effort.

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"It is encouraging that none of the flareups exceeded the containment lines." he said at a Sunday evening news conference. "Today was actually better."

Mandatory evacuations in parts of Los Angeles County continued to remain in place. Authorities urged the public to stay out of the area.

Meanwhile, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department expected some evacuations within Ventura County to be lifted later in the evening. Ventura County Fire Chief Mike Lorenzon noted, however, that he expected more evacuations to come.

A town hall was held at 5 p.m. at Taft High School in Woodland Hills to answer community questions related to both fires. You can watch the whole thing here and here.

Here's the latest on Day 4 of the fires as of 5:45 p.m. Sunday. (You can see more photos of the Woolsey Fire and the destruction left in its wake here.)

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WOOLSEY FIRE

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(Via KPCC Fire Tracker)

The Woolsey Fire has ravaged coastal communities in its sweep from Thousand Oaks all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes, including public officials, first responders and their families.

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The fire is also suspected of killing two civilians and injuring at least one more.

Two people were found dead Friday afternoon in the 3300 block of Mullholland Highway, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Detectives were continuing to investigate their deaths, but believe the driver may have become disoriented while escaping the area, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. Comm. Scott Gage. The victims' names have yet to be released.

Malibu Councilman Jefferson "Zuma Jay" Wagner was hospitalized after losing his home in the fire, according to fellow council member Skylar Peak.

Wagner remains in intensive care at Santa Monica Hospital.

"It makes my heart wrench to see the loss that has hit our community," Peak said at a morning press conference.

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More than 50 homes have been destroyed in Malibu alone, Peak said.

More than half the city is without power and cellular communications are down.

"This is the most destructive and devastating fire that I've witnessed since the 1993 fires, and when it is all said and done, I imagine it will be far more severe," Peak said.

Read more stories of those in Malibu affected by the fire here.

In Calabasas, at least nine single-family homes were destroyed, and two commercial buildings were badly damaged. Dozens more commercial and residential buildings had varying levels of damage, Mayor Fred Gaines said.

The entire city was under evacuation orders, and a large portion was without cable television, telephone and internet. Gaines said he had seen numerous power poles burnt down on a drive through the area.

A wind shift temporarily aided firefighters on Saturday afternoon, but hard, bone-dry Santa Ana winds brought more tough conditions Sunday.

By 5 a.m., the National Weather Service was already reporting gusts above 30 mph in the mountains of Los Angeles County, with strong Santa Ana winds expected to become more widespread and stronger through Tuesday.

"Don't let this winter-esque morning fool you," L.A. County Fire Chief Deputy David Richardson said at a briefing early Sunday morning. "We have a lot of open line out there still, with significant weather coming, whether it be something from the initial perimeter or the perimeter we're dealing with, or a neighboring fire that could potentially impact what we're doing here."

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Firefighters douse burning embers off Kanan Dume Road, a canyon road which cuts across the mountains to Malibu, California on Nov. 11, 2018. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 3,000 firefighting personnel have been deployed to combat the fire that has ravaged Malibu and forced evacuations across entire communities, including all of Hidden Hills and portions of Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and Calabasas.

Residents in parts of Agoura Hills and Westlake Village were allowed to return late Sunday night.


Here's the full evacuation list for Ventura County and L.A. County.


Red Flag parking restrictions will be in effect due to the weather conditions in the city of Los Angeles, starting at 8 a.m. Sunday. They will remain in effect until Monday to help keep roads clear for LAFD vehicles.

While some evacuations were lifted in Ventura County, officials in L.A. County were warning residents affected by the Woolsey Fire that first responders have not yet deemed it safe for them to return. Officials have asked residents not to try to come back until they've received notifications that they can do so from officials.

To underscore that point Sunday, Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said he saw ice plant burning in the front yard of a home.

"Ice plant is not supposed to burn, so my message to the community today is, maybe 10 or 20 years ago, you stayed in your homes when there was a fire and you were able to protect them. Gov. Brown said it last year during the Thomas Fire, that we're entering the new normal," Lorenzen said.

The rate of spread on California's wildfires is exponentially worse than it used to be, he added.

Gaines, the mayor of Calabasas, said that areas that look safe can quickly become unsafe in the high wind conditions currently hitting the region.

"The nine homes that we lost were not on the first run of the fire," Gaines said. "They were all on flareups after the initial run had been knocked down, and the winds picked up just as they're picking up right now."

Mindy Chapman-Shapiro, who was evacuated from her home in Westlake Village and has been staying at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center for days, encouraged anyone in an evacuation zone to leave right away.

"We didn't, and we had to drive through flames," Chapman-Shapiro said. "And it was very frightening, and God was watching over us because I'm here to tell the story -- but if you get an evacuation notice, leave."

ABC News shared a video from another woman who faced a harrowing drive through flames:

Residents in Topanga Canyon who have chosen to shelter in place have been urged instead to leave, according to L.A. County Sheriff Chief John Benedict.

The fire jumped the 101 Freeway and county line Friday morning and blazed a path through the Santa Monica Mountains and south to the ocean.

The California Highway Patrol was expected reopen parts of the 101 Freeway by 9 p.m. Sunday. Officials warned commuters to be careful when roads to reopen to watch out for emergency equipment, rock debris, downed power lines and other dangers.

Several officials have asked for the federal government to issue a Major Disaster Emergency declaration in addition to the federal assistance already being provided.

Officials also said there had been two known incidents of looting in the area, one of which led to a pursuit. Two people have been arrested, an L.A. County sheriff's official said.

As of Sunday evening, LAPD and Ventura County Sheriff's Department officials said there were no addional incidents of looting.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Southern California Edison voluntarily reported an equipment outage at its Chatsworth substation near where the fire began. The outage came just two minutes before the Woolsey Fire was first reported, but Edison stressed that there has so far been no indication from public officials that utility equipment could have been responsible for sparking the fire.

SoCal Edison reported the outage to the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday and said it will cooperate with investigators.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Edison said equipment damages caused by the Woolsey Fire have led to power outages for more than 17,000 customers.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 85,500 acres burned
  • 177 structures destroyed
  • Containment is at 15%
  • 57,000 structures threatened
  • More than 3,000 firefighting personnel on scene

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A road sign on PCH burns from the Woolsey fire on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. (Brian Feinzimer/Fein Image for LAist)

PEPPERDINE CLASSES CANCELED

Pepperdine University reported that all students were safe, most with friends and family. About 3,500 students continued to shelter in place, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Comm. Gage said.

The school has canceled all classes and events at its Malibu and Calabasas campuses through the Thanksgiving holiday.

In a message posted to its website, the university said its Monday and Tuesday classes remained canceled and that all other classes through the holiday would be held remotely.

Students will be contacted by their professors with further details by 5 p.m. Tuesday, the university said.

IMPACT ON LOCAL PARKS

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Paramount Ranch was decimated by a wildfire Friday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

A number of Southern California parks are closed to visitors due to fire danger. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area was burned as the Woolsey Fire crossed the 101 freeway moving south, and it remains closed.

A beloved movie set and tourist attraction there was burned down Friday. The Paramount Ranch site had been used as a western town backdrop since the 1920s for dozens of TV shows and films.

The Woolsey Fire has also prompted the closure of Malibu Creek State Park, where the fire had entered.

Leo Carrillo and Point Mugu State Parks were closed in connection with the Hill Fire but had been burned, according to the California State Parks system.


Here's How You Can Prepare For A Wildfire Right Now


SMOKY AIR IS BAD AIR

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A man watches as the Woolsey Fire reaches the ocean along Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Smoke from the Woolsey Fire was blanketing Southern California skies, sparking warnings from health officials.

The South Coast Air Quailty Management District issued an advisory for a large swath of the region, including portions of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

The advisory remains in effect until Monday afternoon, at which point AQMD said it will issue an update if necessary.

If you can smell smoke or see ash, then you can bet the air quality in your area has reached unhealthy levels. The AQMD advises limiting your exposure by remaining indoors with your windows and doors closed, avoiding outdoor exercise, or seeking shelter in another location.

Read more here on how airborne particulates released during wildfires affect your health and for tips on protecting yourself.


HILL FIRE

Firefighters managed took advantage of decreased winds Saturday afternoon to increase and reinforce containment lines, but they expect to face extreme fire behaviors again Sunday.

Many evacuations have been lifted in the area of the Hill Fire, and people were returning home. For the latest on repopulation and continuing mandatory evacuations, see Ventura County's emergency information page.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 4,531 acres burned
  • 2 structures destroyed
  • Containment is at 75%
  • 800 firefighting personnel on scene

FIRE MAP

This map, created by Ventura County emergency officials, shows where the Woolsey and Hill fires are burning. The purple areas are the approximate fire perimeters, red regions are mandatory evacuation zones and the orange areas are under voluntary evacuation.

NOTE: The map does not show evacuation zones in L.A. County. That list is available here.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

For the latest information straight from local emergency officials, including evacuation orders, road closures, evacuation centers and animal shelters, check the following sites and socia media accounts:

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Melissa Leu, Brian Frank, Ryan Fonseca, Mike Roe, Sharon McNary, Megan Garvey, Kristen Muller and Priska Neely contributed to this story.


UPDATES:

8:14 p.m.: Added new acreage and containment numbers for Woolsey Fire.

8:04 p.m.: Added new containment numbers for Hill Fire.

7:59 p.m.: Added details about the Highway 101 reopening and residents returning to parts of Agoura Hills and Westlake Village.

7:18 p.m.: Added links to community meeting held in Woodland Hills.

5:45 p.m.: Added details that the entire city of Calabasas was under mandatory evacuation orders.

5:09 p.m.: Added details from an evening news conference with fire and law enforcement officials.

1:19 p.m.: Added new air quality advisory and details from evacuee Mindy Chapman-Shapiro.

11:55 a.m.: Added details about Pepperdine University's class schedule.

11:45 a.m.: Added details about plans to reopen 101 Freeway.

11:12 a.m.: Added details on Calabasas homes burned and water quality.

10:53 a.m.: Updated with injury of Malibu Councilman Jefferson Wagner.

8:42 a.m.: Updated with information on SoCal Edison equipment outage and new Woolsey Fire containment figure.

8:30 a.m.: Updated with quote from L.A. County deputy fire chief.

7:46 a.m.: This article was updated with details on the Hill Fire.

This article was originally published at 7:20 a.m.


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