How to Help Those Affected by SoCal Brush Fires

Woolsey Fire Explodes to 54 Square Miles, Threatens Tens of Thousands of Homes; Two Deaths Reported

A wind-driven wildfire exploded in size to 35,000 acres as it raged out of control in L.A. and Ventura counties, threatening tens of thousands of homes and spurring new evacuation orders Friday afternoon.

Two fatalities were reported in Malibu that were possibly related to the Woolsey Fire Friday night, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Nani Cholakians said.

The deaths were first discovered about 4:45 p.m. in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway, Deputy Tony Moore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Information Bureau said in a written statement.

"The area has been contained, but due to the location, elements and hazards in the area regarding the Woolsey and Hill fires, homicide detectives will respond near sunrise," he said.

No further details were available.

The Woolsey Fire has already destroyed numerous homes and structures in areas such as Oak Park, Calabasas and Bell Canyon, with flames threatening to burn down more despite firefighters' best efforts.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby estimated that 100 structures have been lost, though he cautioned the total amount won't be known until damage assessment teams are sent out, which won't happen until Saturday.

Flames began encroaching onto the campus of Pepperdine University shortly after 11 p.m., aerial footage from Sky5 showed. The campus planned to have students and staff "shelter in place" through the night.

All students and faculty were safe, the school said via Twitter about 1:30 a.m.

"No permanent structures have been lost, and all individuals on campus remain safe in relocation sites," according to the online statement.

Firefighters were challenged by high winds, which -- coupled with low visibility -- forced firefighting aircraft to be grounded at times on Friday.

Officials noted that flames remain "very active" in Westlake, Calabasas, Bell Canyon and the area south of the 101 to the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

Meanwhile, fire movement in the north and west parts of Thousand Oaks has moderated, giving firefighters a chance to perform mop up operations and begin perimeter control.

About 75 percent of residents in that city have been forced to leave their homes, according to Mayor Andy Fox.

Fueled by strong winds with gusts of between 50 to 60 mph, flames jumped the 101 Freeway at three separate points -- in Westlake, Agoura Hills and Calabasas -- on Friday and began burning toward the Pacific Ocean.

The wildfire erupted the day before along the Los Angeles/Ventura county border and increased to 14,000 acres in size overnight.

By 12:30 p.m. Friday, the massive inferno threatened populated areas of Malibu, and city officials were urging all residents to leave their homes.

"Fire is now burning out of control and heading into populated areas of Malibu. All residents must evacuate immediately," the city said in an alert.

Since then, evacuations have been issued for Hidden Hills, Topanga Canyon, Monte Nido, Wood Ranch, Long Canyon and the Calabasas area.

Officials implored all residents to heed evacuation orders when they come in, warning that a failure to do so could result in loss of life.

"It's not about saving your property, it's about saving your life," Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks said.

Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency due to the Woolsey and Hill fires.

The Hill Fire was around 4,500 acres, downgraded from previous estimates of more than 6,000 acres, Ventura County fire Capt. Stan Ziegler said. "We were able to fly the fire today and get a more accurate measurement."

It was 15 percent contained, he said.

Diminished activity at the Hill Fire has allowed officials to concentrate more on the Woolsey Fire, Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen said during a morning news conference.

A number of structures were lost in the firefight overnight, Lorenzen said.

No estimate on the number of homes and structures lost was given.

A portion of Western Town on Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills was among the structures lost, the Santa Monica Mountains tweeted.

The raging inferno also forced the closure of a stretch of the 101 Freeway just before 6 a.m., as flames from the Woolsey Fire stretched across lanes to the south side near Liberty Canyon Road, the Fire Department tweeted.

Ventura County Fire Department Captain Scott Dettorre told KTLA he was concerned that as the fire crossed the freeway "it will make its historic and typical run all the way down Pacific Coast Highway. Threatening more homes, more property, more lives."

Mandatory evacuations in Malibu were issued a short time later.

As flames continue their march toward the ocean, residents attempting to evacuate were urged to head south toward Santa Monica before turning further inland.

Woolsey fire facts

-The fire began about 2:30 p.m. Thursday in Woolsey Canyon, east of Simi Valley.

-It has burned 35,000 acres as of 4:30 p.m. Friday.

-No injuries have been reported.

-More than 75,000 homes have been evacuated, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott.

-More than 200,00 residents have been evacuated, L.A. County Fire Department County Capt. Tony Imbrenda told KTLA.

-About 56,000 people are without power in L.A. and Ventura counties.

-A smoke advisory is in effect for portions of the western San Fernando Valley and parts of northwest coastal L.A. County.

-Winds are carrying ash and dust as far away as Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and an advisory has been issued in for areas there.

Mandatory evacuations

Los Angeles County

  • The entire City of Malibu
  • All of Hidden Hills
  • Monte Nido
  • Topanga Canyon
  • All residences off Parkway Calabasas, including The Oaks, Vista Point, Westridge, Calabasas Hills, Calabasas Park Estates and the Estates at the Oaks.
  • Areas south of the 101 Freeway from the Ventura line to Malibu Canyon. Residents should use PCH to evacuate and avoid canyon roads.
  • North of Kanan Road, west of Lindero Canyon to the 23 Freeway extending north of Sunset Hills Boulevard along Erbes Road to Olson Road.
  • North of Sunset Hills Boulevard, South of Olson Road and west of the 23 Freeway.
  • South of 101 Freeway, north of Mulholland Highway, west of Las Virgenes Road, east of Westlake Boulevard.
  • The neighborhood West of Valley Circle Boulevard, between Roscoe Boulevard and Vanowen Street, in West Hills.

Ventura County

  • Saddlebow between Maverick Lane and Morgan Road in Bell Canyon, north of the 101 Freeway, south of Bell Canyon Road, west of Valley Circle, east of the 23 Freeway.
  • Oak Park, entire community
  • Wood Ranch (See map here)
  • Long Canyon (See map here)
  • Long Canyon Road to Valley Gate Road
  • Thousand Oaks - Thousand Oaks Blvd. north to Sunset Hills, from Oak Park west to Highway 23
  • West of Highway 23 - south of East Olsen Road, north of Pederson Road
  • South of Bard Lake, east of Highway 23
  • South of Highway 101, east of Reino Road, north of Potrero Road, east to the L.A. / Ventura County line
  • Point Mugu Naval Base
  • All areas of Camarillo Springs
  • All areas of Vallecito Trailer Park
  • All areas of California State University Channel Islands
  • Parts of Dos Vientos (see map here)
  • Parts of South Coast (see map here)

Voluntary evacuations

  • Lake Sherwood and the area south of Highway 101 and north of Potrero Road between Westlake Boulevard and Wendy Drive in Thousand Oaks.

Updated information on evacuations and road closures can be found on VCEmergency.com and the L.A. County website.

Evacuation Centers

Evacuation centers are open Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Borchard Community Center, Rancho Santa Susana Recreation Center, Camarillo Community Center, Thousand Oaks Teen Center, and Goebel Adult Community Center are open in Ventura County.

Taft High School and Pierce College are open to people in Los Angeles County. An evacuation center was also opened at Palisades High School, located at 15777 Bowdoin St, in Pacific Palisades.