Despite the return of threatening Santa Ana winds, a combined force of firefighters battling the deadly Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties was able to hold the blaze within containment lines Sunday, but officials warned that unburned areas in that footprint and to the south continued to pose danger.
Evacuation orders for Calabasas expanded to the whole city Sunday evening.
Later, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced residents would be allowed back into some areas of Agoura Hills and Westlake Village beginning at 9 p.m.
“The only areas in the impacted fire zone of Los Angeles County that we are able to safely repopulate at this time are the Agoura Hills and Westlake Village communities, between Chesebro Road and Westlake Boulevard and north of the 101 Freeway,” according to a department statement. “No access will be available to neighborhoods south of the 101 Freeway. The Los Angeles County Public Works has closed Chesebro Road at the bridge located between Driver Avenue and Balkins Street due to the bridge being damaged during the fire.”
They also announced the 101 Freeway would reopen, with some on and off-ramps remaining closed.
“At 9 p.m., the northbound lanes will be open from Valley Circle Boulevard, with the off-ramps at Chesebro Road, Kanan Road, Reyes Adobe Road, and Lindero Canyon re-opening. At 10 p.m., the southbound lanes of Interstate 101 Freeway will open, with the same off-ramps to southbound traffic.”
Evacuations were also lifted for some areas of Newbury Park.
“The mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted within the perimeters of Lynn Road, north of Potrero Road, west of Westlake Blvd, and south of Highway 101. Gated communities south of Potrero Road are still under mandatory evacuations,” according to a statement from the Thousand Oaks Police Department.
Several flare-ups in the Malibu and western San Fernando Valley were reported earlier Sunday as winds started to kick up.
Cal Fire officials said the fire had grown to 83,275 acres and was 10 percent contained by lines of cleared vegetation.
A total of 57,000 structures were threatened and 177 were destroyed, with hundreds more likely. The badly burned bodies of two people were found inside a vehicle in a long driveway in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway.
Three firefighters were injured battling the fire, but they were reported to be minor.
The fire — which began Thursday afternoon — has forced the evacuation of at least 75,000 homes and an estimated 265,000 people in both counties as it indiscriminately consumed multimillion-dollar mansions and mobile homes. The cause remained under investigation, Cal Fire said.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Curt Kaplan said Sunday that the winds will steadily increase to 50-60 mph in the mountains with gusts of up to 70 mph. A Red Flag Warning remained in effect for Los Angeles and Ventura counties through Tuesday.
Kaplan was optimistic the winds would be weaker than they were Thursday and Friday and will be strongest in the mornings and early afternoons through Tuesday, giving firefighters a nightly reprieve.
Mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect in the city of Malibu; the city of Calabasas; in Bell Canyon; Oak Park; Thousand Oaks Boulevard north to Sunset Hills; Oak Park west to Highway 23; West of Highway 23, south of E. 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; Wood Ranch and Long Canyon.
Law enforcement and fire officials, as well as elected officials, urged people in the fire area to heed all evacuation orders.
Los Angeles Police Capt. Don Graham said the LAPD has been putting together a plan for road closures and evacuations in advance of Sunday’s winds.
The expected return of the winds led to the re-imposition of the Red Flag Parking Restriction Program, which will go into effect starting at 8 a.m., Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said, warning that illegally parked vehicles will be towed.
Motorists should look for “No Parking” signs posted in the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones. For a map of those zones, go to www.lafd.org./news/woolsey-fire.
The Los Angeles City Fire Department sent more than 25 fire companies to battle the Woolsey Fire, Stewart said. The U.S. Forest Service has dispatched two crews numbering 32 people to assist, according to the department.
Orange County Fire Authority officials say they have sent 20 engines to assist with the fires in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and firefighters have come in from off time to ensure that every OCFA fire station is adequately staffed.
Crews from other agencies, including Arizona, were also assisting in battling the massive blaze, helping to evacuate residents and providing traffic control.
Los Angeles County fire strike teams and water dropping aircraft were working to contain the flames on or around the Pepperdine campus. No permanent structures have been lost, but video from the campus showed at least one vehicle and several bicycles scorched by flames.
Pepperdine University in Malibu, which lifted a shelter-in-place order that had been in effect Saturday, announced Sunday that the school’s Malibu and Calabasas campuses would remain closed through Thanksgiving.
All Malibu schools in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District will remain closed until at least Thursday, the district announced.
The City of Malibu reported that all mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect and no one will be permitted to re-enter Malibu until further notice. Active fires were still burning in Malibu, and the city said there will likely be intermittent power outages due to weather and fire conditions.
Malibu also has established a website to update fire information at www.malibucity.org/woolsey.
The superintendent of the Las Virgenes Unified School District in Calabasas said district leaders would meet Sunday to assess air quality and overall safety issues before issuing a district-wide email to families about the school schedule for the rest of the week.
The fire started in Ventura County but raced into Los Angeles County, chewed its way through brush and into neighborhoods of Westlake Village and Malibu. The fire reportedly jumped Pacific Coast Highway Friday evening, moving toward Malibu Colony. Driven by 50- to 60-mph winds, the flames jumped south across the 101 Freeway in the Liberty Canyon area early Friday, sending it on a course through Malibu and its exclusive celebrity enclaves.
The following evacuation centers were open:
— Canoga Park Senior High School at 6850 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park
— Palisades High School, 15777 Bowdoin St., Pacific Palisades
— Camarillo Community Center, 1605 E. Burnley Street, Camarillo (accepting small animals)
— Borchard Community Center, 190 Reino Road, Newbury Park (accepting small animals)
— Taft Charter High School, 5461 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills (at capacity)
— Rancho Santa Susana Recreation Center, 5005 Unit C, Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley (no animals accepted)
— Pierce College, 7100 El Rancho Drive, Woodland Hills (Entrance off Desoto Avenue);
Evacuation centers for animals were opened Friday at Hansen Dam, 11770 Foothill Blvd. in Lake View Terrace, and Pierce College in Woodland Hills, but both reached capacity. A large animal evacuation center was established at the Zuma Beach parking lot in Malibu. Industry Hills Expo Center in the San Gabriel Valley was also offering shelter for horses from fire-affected areas. In Ventura County, Borchard Community Center at 190 Reino Rd. in Newbury Park was accepting dogs and cats.
The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Services was on site assisting as well.
Those who need assistance with large animals were advised to call (805) 388-4258.
Meanwhile, firefighters were reporting progress on the much smaller Hill Fire north of Malibu and south of Simi Valley. That wildfire was 70 percent contained and consumed 4,531 acres with two structures destroyed and no other structures threatened. No civilians or firefighters were killed or injured and full containment was expected Wednesday.
Gov. Jerry Brown, responding to the Southern California fires and the Camp Fire in Northern California that has burned more than 100,000 acres and killed at least 23 people, announced Sunday that he is requesting a “major disaster declaration” from President Donald J. Trump, in addition to an earlier emergency declaration signed by Trump that will provide federal funds to help firefighters.