Woolsey Fire Jumps Freeway, Mandatory Evacuations Ordered In Malibu

posted by R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter - 

The Woolsey Fire in Ventura County exploded overnight charring about 35,000 thousand acres and is currently zero percent contained. The fire jumped the Ventura (101) Freeway near Chesebro Road in Agoura Hills earlier this morning and is currently burning toward the Pacific Ocean, while being fueled by dry conditions and gusty Santa Ana winds.

"We know we have a significant number of structures lost," Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. "I would estimate at least 100."

A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for the entire city of Malibu, plus areas south of the 101 Freeway, Ventura line to Malibu Canyon. Traffic signals are also reported to be out on PCH and Coasline making a difficult commute even tougher for people trying to get out of the city. City officials are urging residents to use PCH to evacuate and avoid using canyon roads. 

Strong winds have driven the Woolsey fire into the San Fernando Valley and is currently burning several homes in the West Hills area. 

Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties due to the Woolsey and Hill Fire. 

 

Officials shut down a stretch of the 101 Freeway between Reyes Adobe and Parkway Calabasas where the fire had jumped the freeway in several places. The blaze has placed at least 75,000 homes in the Los Angeles and Ventura counties under threat. Several structures have already been destroyed, authorities said, but it was unclear how many and it continued to threaten at least 30,000 homes in two counties. 

The fire also prompted the closure of all schools in the Las Virgines Unified School Districty in Calabasas as well as Viewpoint School, Montessori of Calabasas, Montessori of Calabasas Too and Muse School, the city of Calabasas announced this morning.

The entire community of Hidden Hills is now under mandatory evacuation with residents asked to leave immediately via Valley Circle Blvd toward Chatsworth the L.A. County Sheriff's Department said on Twitter. 

Officials have also ordered an evacuation of Topanga Canyon.

West Hills has been placed under MANDATORY EVACUATIONS from city limits to Valley Circle, Vanowen and Roscoe. 

Evacuees can go to Canoga Park High School: 6850 Topanga Canyon Blvd. 

The area of Woodland Hills is NOT under evacuation at this time. 

 

People who need a temporary space for their animals, an evacuation center has been opened at Hansen Dam, 11770 Foothill Blvd in Lake View Terrace. Another evacuation center for animals at Pierce College in Woodland Hills has already reached capacity, authorities said. 

A third animal evacuation center for any horses being evacuated from the wildfires has also been opened by the Industry Hills Expo Center. There's about 250 stalls available. The stable is located at 16200 Temple Ave, City of Industry, CA, 91744. 

Office phone: (626) 330-0324. After hours help available at (626) 216-6428. 

There have been no reported injuries to civilians or firefighters, according to Ventura County firefighters. 

An evacuation center has been established at Taft High School at 5461 Winnetka Ave. in Woodland Hills. 

Residents who aren't under a mandatory evacuation order are being told by Calabasas city officials to get prepared anyway by gathering their IDs, medications, important documents, emergency supplies, and a change of clothes. 

 

Fire evacuation centers

Accepting large animals

 

The heavy smoke and strong winds have made visibility difficult for crews on the fire lines and for residents trying to evacuate the fire zones. 

The Woolsey Fire broke out at around 2:25 p.m. Thursday near the Rocketdyne facility in the Santa Susana pass. Officials say 50 to 60 mph Santa Ana winds helped stoke the fire and prevented fire commanders from ordering aerial assaults on the flames. 

Some flights were able to attack the fireline at around 5:30 a.m. as the wind died down  somewhat, but wind gusts quickly picked back up and forecasters say they expect them to pick back up later today. 

The Los Angeles Police Department has been placed on a citywide tactical alert to ensure that resources will be available to assist with any evacuation orders and road closures that have been prompted by the Woolsey Fire, according to the department. 

"If you're in an affected area and have been ordered to evacuate, evacuate,” the statement said.

"The wind-whipped conditions... this is ripe conditions for explosive fire behavior,” Los Angeles County Fire Captain Erik Scott told NBC4. “This is the new normal. When we have conditions like this, when it's such incredible wind, that brings us in to a different caliber, so it's become a much more challenging condition."

 

Several agencies around Southern California have sent strike teams to help assist with the firefight. Los Angeles county and city crews are currently helping out, and the Orange County Fire Authority has sent two strike teams to assist, Capt. Steve Concialdi said. 

 

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