Topanga, Malibu under mandatory evacuation.
By Sam Catanzaro
As the Woolsey Fire burns through over 80,000 acres of Los Angeles and Ventura counties and destroying at least 177 structures, firefighters continue to combat the blaze, which as of this morning was at 10 percent containment.
The fire, which has caused the fatalities of two people and injured three firefighters, has forced mandatory evacuation orders in the cities of Malibu, Topanga, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Hidden Hills and Thousand Oaks. At the time of publishing, the fire is threatening 57,000 structures. Officials are urging those displaced by the wildfire to not return until first responders declare the area safe and lift mandatory evacuation orders.
“It may look safe enough to go back and check on your home, but don’t do it,” said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby at a press conference this morning. “The potential dangers you may encounter could cost you your life. We will let you know when it’s safe to go home.”
Although it may appear that fire threats have passed in some communities, officials cautioned that conditions remain unstable and can shift suddenly dangerously with changes in wind patterns and other unpredictabilities. Dangers within the impacted area include live embers, landslides, unhealthy air quality and downed live power lines.
Extreme fire conditions continue across the region with Santa Ana winds gusting 40-60 miles per hour with humidities between 3-10 percent. A red flag warning is in place through Tuesday. According to CAL FIRE, firefighters are expected to contain the Woolsey Fire by Saturday, November 17.
“Moderate to strong Santa Ana winds are driving the fire activity today. The winds are predicted to weaken this evening but then increase again Monday morning. Relative humidity is dropping into the single digits with little or no recovery expected overnight,” CAL FIRE said in a press release Sunday. “Given the wind and moisture conditions, as well as the dry vegetation, critical fire conditions will continue through the operational period.”
The closest evacuation center to Santa Monica is Palisades Charter High School. Several hotels in Santa Monica have made rooms available for fire evacuees, including facilities that have accommodations for families and small pets.
Officials urge residents to help with cash donations but cautioned members of the public to beware of financial scams related to wildfire recovery support.
“[We are] urging that donations be made to reputable first responder, relief, and animal‐aid organizations,” Los Angeles County Emergency Operations Center said in a press release. These include the American Red Cross, United Way and Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation.
Poor air quality remains throughout Los Angeles County, including Santa Monica, as city officials canceled the Santa Monica Farmers Market and all community and cultural activities.
The Santa Monica Fire Department’s XLA1075A strike team has been assigned to fight the fire.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Follow the SMFD on Twitter @santamonicafd for the most up to date information. Sign up for emergency alerts in Santa Monica at https://www.smgov.net/Departments/OEM/Stay_Informed.aspx. For the latest information on road closures and fires, please monitor https://www.chp.ca.gov/home/california-wild-fire-resources.