Fires

2 confirmed dead as crews brace for return of Santa Ana winds in Ventura County fires

Get a helicopter’s view of the Woolsey Fire as it burns through Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway

A Los Angeles County Firehawk helicopter shows the Woolsey Fire along Malibu's Pacific Coast Highway on Nov. 9, 2018.
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A Los Angeles County Firehawk helicopter shows the Woolsey Fire along Malibu's Pacific Coast Highway on Nov. 9, 2018.

Update, 8:43 p.m.

The Woolsey Fire has grown to 83,000 acres, Cal Fire said Saturday night. The blaze is still only 5 percent contained. Authorities also set the number of structures destroyed at 177, while 57,000 remain threatened and two have been damaged.

Original story

The first fatalities of the wind-whipped Woolsey Fire were confirmed by authorities Saturday, as crews scrambled to make progress on a relatively calm day in the charred hills of Ventura and Los Angeles counties before an expected return of the Santa Ana winds Sunday.

Two people were killed after being severely burned in their vehicle, found on a long residential driveway near the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department chief John Benedict. No other details were available.

The Woolsey Fire has stayed at 70,000 acres after doubling overnight and is now under 5 percent containment. Most areas of Ventura and Los Angeles counties affected by the Woolsey Fire remain under evacuation, but Cal Fire lifted notices for some areas around Simi Valley on Saturday night.

The following roads remained closed, according to CalTrans:

Highway 101 remained closed in both directions between Reyes Adobe Road in Agoura Hills and Valley Circle Boulevard in Calabasas.

California Highway Patrol Lt. Kevin Kurker said the CHP was working with Caltrans and other agencies with the hopes of getting the freeway reopened sometime Saturday night.

Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) remained closed southbound at Las Posas Road in Camarillo and northbound at Sunset Boulevard in Santa Monica.

The smaller Hill Fire in Ventura County remained at 4,00 acres and was 23 percent contained.

The mandatory evacuation orders for the following areas affected by the Hill Fire have been lifted by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office: Camarillo Springs, Dos Vientos, Vallecito Mobile Home Park and Cal State Channel Islands. Residents hoping to return home will need valid identification.

Crews were expected to work through the night constructing containment lines in the coastal canyons north of Malibu in the hope of slowing the blaze, which stretches some 14 miles from Simi Valley to the coastline.

First-responder crews from around the region have assisted in the fight, including multiple agencies from San Luis Obispo County.

The SLO Count Sheriff’s Office said Saturday it received a request to redeploy resources for mutual aid to Ventura County to assist with both fires.

A total of 27 law enforcement personnel from the county are now being deployed to assist Ventura County with evacuations in the area, according to a news release. The Sheriff’s Office has deployed 17 deputies, the release said. Additionally, the Pismo Beach Police Department, San Luis Obispo Police Department, Arroyo Grande Police Department, Cal Poly University Police and Cuesta College Police are each sending two police officers from their respective agencies, the release said.

Sunday’s forecast was calling for 30-40 mph winds, with higher gusts, and a Red Flag Warning for extreme fire weather will be in effect until Tuesday. Officials still have not been able to make a tally of structures damaged or destroyed, but unofficial reports put the number at at least 150.

An estimated 250,000 people remained under evacuation orders in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Some repopulation was likely to occur Saturday night and Sunday, primary in neighborhoods around the smaller Hill Fire in the Camarillo area, according to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub.

Updated information on evacuations and road closures is available at vcemergency.com.

With another wind event on its way, Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen stressed that residents in and around the fire areas should remain vigilant.

“Don’t be lulled by a false sense of security,” Lorenzen said. “We know that tomorrow Mother Nature is going to turn her fans back on.”

Only a day after a shooting that left 12 dead and Ventura County reeling, area residents were forced to evacuate as a wildfire encroached on homes in Calabasas on November 9. Video shows Ventura County firefighters responding to protect houses.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune

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