Firefighters continue battle against deadly woolsey fire

Santa Ana winds are forecast to pick up more Monday than Sunday and may continue into Wednesday as firefighters battling the deadly Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties work to hold the blaze within cleared containment lines and officials worry that unburned areas continue to pose potential danger.

At last word from Cal Fire, the blaze had burned 91,572 acres and was 20 percent contained by cleared vegetation. The total number of structures threatened remained at about 57,000. The number of structures destroyed held at 177, with hundreds more considered likely. Full containment was expected by Nov. 17. Two people have died and three firefighters have been injured battling the blaze.

Winds in mountain areas could average 50-60 mph and gust to 70 mph Tuesday and foothill and coastal areas are expected to see 35-50 mph winds, Kaplan said.

A Red Flag Warning remained in effect for Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Tuesday, when winds will be strongest in the mornings and early afternoons, giving firefighters a nightly reprieve. That Red Flag Warning could be extended into Wednesday as winds could be stronger than earlier expected, he said.

The California Highway Patrol Sunday night reopened the northbound and southbound Ventura (101) Freeway from Valley Circle Boulevard with the offramps at Cheseboro Road, Kanan Road, Reyes Adobe Road and Lindero Canyon reopening. Pacific Coast Highway remained closed to all traffic from the Ventura/Los Angeles County line to Sunset Boulevard.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told a media gathering that crews were working around the clock to build containment lines, knock down flare-ups and update damage numbers. He said there are no new figures yet as to the number of structures destroyed, but noted: “That number will increase.”

Osby said there were flare-ups in several canyons as winds kicked up Sunday, but none outside the footprint of where the fire already had burned. Osby credited the Los Angeles Fire Department with keeping areas to the south, especially in Bell Canyon, “buttoned up” employing some 50 engines on the fire’s flank to keep it from spreading south of Mulholland Highway into Pacific Palisades and Topanga Canyon.

“For your safety and the safety of your family, please collect necessary person items and evacuate the city as quickly as possible, and please follow instructions provided by law enforcement,” Lysik said. He also said that residents can get the latest information about the city’s situation on the website www,cityofcalabasas,com.

A town hall meeting about the fire was held Sunday at Taft Charter High School and attended by hundreds of concerned residents from the west San Fernando Valley down to Malibu. The tense, standing room only crowd was given briefings by representatives of law enforcement, fire departments, school districts, utilities and politicians.

Questions were raised online and at the town hall regarding the possible danger of radioactive dust posed by the fire since it had burned through the former Rocketdyne site at the Santa Susana field. And many residents expressed frustration at not knowing when they would be able to return to their homes.

A representative from the state’s Department of Toxic Substances and Control told the crowd that his office had sent a monitoring team to the area that found no evidence of radioactive ash posing a threat. He said the team would continue monitoring the site for problems. However the DTSC representative did not stay to take questions.

There are still about 3,500 students sheltered at Malibu’s Pepperdine University, Benedict said, bringing an angry reaction from a number of Malibu residents who asked if resources were being diverted from protecting houses in Malibu to protecting Pepperdine University.

He said the LVWD experienced a power outage at one point , but it quickly was repaired by Southern California Edison. He also said because of the electrical problems caused by the fire, the water district had now issued a “boil water advisory” for parts of the district. A similar advisory was issued by Los Angeles County Water District No. 29.

He also said that it will take time to replace the telephone poles destroyed by the fire, especially in canyon areas. He said they will need to use a helicopter to bring in the new poles. “We can’t just drive poles in on a truck to those areas,” he said.

The fire — which began Thursday afternoon — has forced the evacuation of at least 75,000 homes and an estimated 265,000 people in both counties as it indiscriminately consumed multimillion-dollar mansions and mobile homes. The cause remained under investigation, Cal Fire said.

The City of Malibu reported that all mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect until further notice. Active fires were still burning in Malibu, and the city said there will likely be intermittent power outages due to weather and fire conditions.

The superintendent of the Las Virgenes Unified School District in Calabasas said district leaders were meeting to assess air quality and overall safety issues before issuing a districtwide email to families about the school schedule for the rest of the week.

Los Angeles County fire strike teams and water dropping aircraft were working to contain the flames on or around the Pepperdine campus. No permanent structures have been lost, but video from the campus showed at least one vehicle and several bicycles scorched by flames.

Evacuation centers for animals were opened Friday at Hansen Dam, 11770 Foothill Blvd. in Lake View Terrace, and Pierce College in Woodland Hills, but both reached capacity. A large animal evacuation center was established at the Zuma Beach parking lot in Malibu. Industry Hills Expo Center in the San Gabriel Valley was also offering shelter for horses from fire-affected areas. In Ventura County, Borchard Community Center at 190 Reino Rd. in Newbury Park was accepting dogs and cats.

Governor Jerry Brown, responding to the Southern California fires and the Camp Fire in Northern California that has burned more than 100,000 acres and killed at least 29 people, announced Sunday he is requesting a “major disaster declaration” from President Donald Trump, in addition to an earlier emergency declaration signed by Trump that will provide federal funds to aid firefighters.