Firefighters reached full containment on the Woolsey Fire on Wednesday, just under two weeks after the deadly blaze broke out and hours before a weak rain storm was expected to move through the area and bring further threat to homes.
The massive wildfire claimed three lives and consumed at least 1,640 structures grew to 151 square miles — nearly the size of metropolitan Denver — across Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
It broke out the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 8, in Woolsey Canyon, east of Simi Valley. It soon spread toward Thousand Oaks, forcing evacuations there on the heels of a mass shooting that claimed 12 lives at a local bar earlier that Thursday.
Fanned by powerful Santa Ana winds, the destructive fire exploded to 91,500 acres by the end of its first weekend. Evacuations impacted a large swath of the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding communities, with tens of thousands of residents evacuated from Camarillo to Malibu.
Officials are still investigating what caused the fire to break out in the first place, but a group of victims has already sued Southern California Edison alleging negligence. The utility previously said there was no indication from fire officials that its equipment may have been involved in the start of the blaze.
Among the dead is Alfred Deciutiis, a 73-year-old retired oncologist who chose to remain in his home in an unincorporated area of the Santa Monica Mountains south of Agoura Hills despite mandatory evacuations.
Coroner's officials have yet to positively identify the two others killed, a man and woman whose remains were found in a burnt-out SUV in Malibu the day after the blaze broke out.
Many fear the danger has not yet passed for the area's residents, with mudflows potentially trigged by a storm system forecast to hit the region late Wednesday night. Light rain began falling in Malibu shortly before 10 p.m., but the precipitation was not yet significant enough to cause major concerns.
Authorities have been working to prepare residents with sandbags and other safety measures with the debris flows that earlier this year killed 21 people in Santa Barbara County following the Thomas Fire still fresh in Southern Californians' memories.
Residents were urged to clear drainage routes around their home and be prepared to shut off utilities and evacuate. Empty sandbags can be obtained at local fire stations, and further information on storm preparation can be found at LACounty.gov/LArain.
Authorities planned to keep the two disaster assistance centers opened in Malibu and Agoura Hills open at least another few weeks. Residents and business owners can begin applying for federal relief online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585.