With rains expected and the deadly Woolsey Fire almost fully contained, Malibu residents continued returning home Monday as some prepared for possible mudslides.
The wildfire is 96 percent contained after burning through about 96,949 acres, or just over 150 square miles — claiming three lives as it spread from Ventura to Los Angeles counties, destroyed about 1,500 structures and damaged more than 340 more, according to Cal Fire.
Among those returning home was “Coach” actor Craig T. Nelson, who described the wildfire as one of the worst he’s seen as a decades-long resident of Malibu.
“I’ve been here since '88 so I’ve been through three of them,” Nelson said referring to the region’s wildfires. “And this was, this was unbelievable.”
“I was gonna stay late and take care of the house. And it was just too much smoke,” he said. “You couldn’t get through it.”
While some evacuees like Nelson were just getting back, others were already preparing for the possibility of mudslides.
L.A. County officials are warning of possible mudflow in areas left scorched by the fire.
“It could get ugly with the rains,” said Edward Miller, property manager at the gated community of Point Dume Club. “But that’s the next thing we’ll tackle. We’ll stay here and figure it out.”
Victor Lobl, who lost his home in the wildfire, was filling up and delivering sandbags that will be used as barriers against flooding.
He just got back to Malibu the day before and saw the devastation left where his property once was.
“It’s tough. We’re in and out of this emotional roller coaster ride,” Lobl said.
Liz Diamond, another evacuee, was returning home with her 10-month-old daughter Charlotte.
“It’s been tough but Charlotte will be back in a crib. She’s been sleeping like on the floor or with me,” Diamond said.
Lobl said he’s been comforted by seeing people help one another. Nelson said he could see where the flames got just around 10 feet away from his home before someone put them out.
"I’ve been looking and I’ve been seeing these boot marks, and I owe somebody a huge debt of gratitude,” Nelson said. “And I don’t know who they are.”
During a community meeting held Monday night, Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen responded to community complaints that not enough was down to save homes.
“We’ve heard many times that we didn’t have enough fire engines, and I will tell you in all honesty we didn’t, and we probably won’t ever with the way fires are burning these days,” he said. “There are not enough resources in Southern California.”
Lorenzen added that previously there was more of a focus on protecting structures, but firefighters are now more focused on protecting lives.
Kaliko Orian, who lost her home on Pacific Coast Highway, said she was not satisfied with meeting, where affected residents were only allowed to submit questions via index cards.
“I feel like you’re being talked at,” she told KTLA. “I appreciate the information that’s being given, but I just lost everything I have and they don’t trust me enough to stand up in a group of people and ask the questions I need to ask.”