Updated November 14, 2018
MALIBU, CA – The deadly Woolsey Fire has burned 97,620 acres, destroyed 453 structures, threatened another 57,000, forced the evacuation of more than 265,000 people in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and is 40 percent contained as of Wednesday morning, as firefighters face another day of strong Santa Ana winds and gusts of up to 40 miles per hour. Full containment of the blaze is expected by Sunday.
Firefighters were working to contain a flareup that was reported Wednesday in the Point Mugu area in Ventura County, and significant progress was made in some areas of the firefight.
Roger Kelton, 67, wipes his tears while searching through the remains of his mother-in-law’s home burned down by the Woolsey Fire Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Agoura Hills, Calif. “We saw the pictures Friday of the house on fire,” said Kelton. “We knew it was gone but still haven’t had my good cry yet. I’ve been trying to be strong for my daughter, my wife and my mother-in-law.” (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby told the Board of Supervisors there are flames burning deep in the Malibu Canyon area that fire crews cannot access.
“We’re doing a lot of air drops but it’s not safe for our firefighters to go in there,” he said. “Our concern is that when the wind shifts (likely on Thursday) … that fire does not blow out of there and then creep over to the south side of Malibu or into Topanga Canyon. When it’s safe to let people come back home, we will.”
A meeting Tuesday night at Santa Monica High School’s Barnum Hall began with cheers for first responders, but was quickly followed by some residents walking out because they felt their concerns were not being addressed, KCAL9 reported.
“They were not prepared, the fire department was not prepared,” said 45-year Malibu resident Forrest Stuart told KCAL9. “My house was saved by my next door neighbor who is an 85-year-old retired, decorated fire chief. He and his wife are 85 and they stood there all night and knocked away embers that hit my house. I’m pretty angry about it.”
Evacuee Marybeth Massett told KCAL9: “My family is OK, we lost our home. It’s just sad, feelings of frustration are normal. I have the deepest respect for our first responders who do heroes work all the time and, unfortunately, they couldn’t be everywhere at once.”
The continuing danger prompted Los Angeles County officials to reissue a warning to residents in evacuated areas to stay away until conditions are deemed safe.
Malibu City Councilman Skylar Peak has asked people to refrain from attempting to get back into Malibu by boat.
The sheriff’s department has repeatedly tried to reassure residents that their homes would be safe from looters, with more than 600 deputies on 12- hour rotational shifts.
The northbound and southbound Ventura (101) Freeway from Valley Circle Boulevard remained open. Pacific Coast Highway remained closed to all traffic from the Ventura/Los Angeles County line to Sunset Boulevard.
Two people who died in the fire were found Friday inside a burned vehicle in a long driveway in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway.
Some 3,592 firefighters were assigned to battle the blaze, while, 22 helicopters worked from above, officials said. A total of 619 engines, 48 water tenders, 23 bulldozers and 57 hand crews were sent into the battle, Cal Fire reported. Crews from other areas, including Orange County and Arizona, also sent firefighters and equipment to aid the battle.
Three firefighters have been injured battling the Woolsey Fire.
According to Cal Fire, more than a half-million gallons of fire retardant has been dropped already on the Woolsey Fire, along with 1.5 million gallons of water.
Original article from Patch.com by Emily Holland. City News Service contributed to this post; All photos courtesy of AP Photo/Jae C. Hong