Wild­fire forces mass evac­u­a­tions from Mal­ibu to Cal­abasas

The Fresno Bee - - Front Page - BY JACLYN COS­GROVE, RUBEN VIVES, ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN, HAN­NAH FRY AND BEN­JAMIN ORESKES

The Woolsey Fire made a de­struc­tive march through Ven­tura and Los An­ge­les coun­ties on Fri­day, de­stroy­ing nu­mer­ous sub­ur­ban homes, clos­ing free­ways and caus­ing por­tions of cities from Cal­abasas and Thou­sand Oaks to Mal­ibu to be evac­u­ated as the fire grew to 10,000 acres.

The blaze jumped the 101 Free­way on Fri­day morn­ing and was mak­ing a march to­ward the Pa­cific Ocean, fu­eled by dry con­di­tions and ex­treme winds. Its rapid move­ment overnight prompted thou­sands of peo­ple to run from their homes as the flames came close.

Fire­fight­ers spent the night and morn­ing bat­tling the fire by air and on the ground, in some cases pre­vent­ing it from sweep­ing through neigh­bor­hoods. But fire of­fi­cials say at least 20 homes, per­haps more, did burn.

About 75,000 homes in Ven­tura and Los An­ge­les coun­ties are un­der manda­tory or vol­un­tary evac­u­a­tion or­ders, but with the sit­u­a­tion rapidly chang­ing, that num­ber is ex­pected

to grow. There have been no fa­tal­i­ties or se­vere in­juries de­spite sev­eral re­ports of peo­ple be­ing trapped by the fire.

Los An­ge­les County Fire Capt. Tony Im­brenda said of­fi­cials are rush­ing to evac­u­ate peo­ple from neigh­bor­hoods in Mal­ibu.

Evac­u­a­tions jammed traf­fic on sur­face streets as peo­ple fled the city.

“We have too many peo­ple lin­ger­ing,” Im­brenda said. “We need peo­ple to pack up and get out for their own safety.”

Evac­u­a­tions are in ef­fect from the 101 Free­way to the coast be­tween Las Vir­genes Canyon/Mal­ibu Canyon Road to the Los An­ge­les County line.

Ven­tura County fire of­fi­cials said crews that had been work­ing the Hill fire, which has scorched roughly 7,000 acres in the Santa Rosa Val­ley area, were redi­rected overnight to the Woolsey fire. Of­fi­cials said they ex­pect the Hill fire to burn to the ocean.

In­tense winds fu­eled the Woolsey Fire overnight into Fri­day morn­ing. Fire­fight­ers an­tic­i­pated a tough bat­tle through much of the day as dry con­di­tions con­tin­ued.

About 3 a.m., manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­ders were given for West­lake Vil­lage and ar­eas of Cal­abasas, and Cheese­boro Canyon was be­ing hit hard by the fire, ac­cord­ing to the Los An­ge­les County Fire Depart­ment.

“It is crit­i­cal that res­i­dents pay close at­ten­tion to evac­u­a­tion or­ders. This is a very dan­ger­ous wind­driven fire,” the depart­ment said in a tweet.

The news of evac­u­a­tion in Thou­sand Oaks added to the ex­haus­tion of res­i­dents, many of whom had been shaken by news of a hor­rific shooting nearby at Border­line Bar and Grill less than a day ear­lier. Res­i­dent Melissa Snyder said it had been a hellish 24 hours for her fam­ily.

Early Thurs­day, she re­ceived the devastating news that her close fam­ily friend, 21-year-old Noel Sparks, had been among those killed in the mas­sacre. Snyder has known Sparks since she was a baby and could barely make sense of that tragedy, which took place just a few miles from her Hill­crest neigh­bor­hood, be­fore she was told to leave her home as the Woolsey fire neared.

“We didn’t get over the one tragedy un­til the next thing started,” Snyder said.

On Fri­day morn­ing, Snyder wore a robe as she stood in a Wood­land Hills park­ing lot out­side a Man­hat­tan Bagels with her hus­band and five chil­dren.

Her daugh­ter Kaylee got a fran­tic call early in the morn­ing from her friend Madi­son that they needed to get mov­ing.

The nor­mally de­serted 101 free­way at 3 a.m. was packed with cars. Kaylee, 16, said it was “like you were leav­ing hell.”

“I’m con­fused and over­whelmed,” she said.

Steve Snyder said the fam­ily’s nerves were some­what frayed from the lack of sleep. As news of the Border­line tragedy broke, they weren’t sure whether the shooter had been ap­pre­hended. They thought he might be in their neigh­bor­hood and stood by the door just in case.

“It’s been two nights of no sleep,” he said. “That would be awe­some if we could get home to­day.”

Sev­eral peo­ple were re­port­edly trapped by flames in the 5600 block of Hol­lytree Drive and were ask­ing for emer­gency as­sis­tance, ac­cord­ing to the Ven­tura County Star.

Au­thor­i­ties re­quested 10 ad­di­tional fire strike teams to help pro­tect the struc­tures threat­ened by the blaze, the Star said. Crews at the scene said that with­out the ad­di­tional help, they had run out of re­sources to fight the fire.

RINGO H.W. CHIU AP

Fire­fight­ers push a ve­hi­cle from a garage as a wild­fire fire burns a home near Mal­ibu Lake on Fri­day.

RICHARD VOGEL AP

Large plumes of smoke are seen as vol­un­teers care for evac­u­ated horses at The Pierce Col­lege Equine Cen­ter, where evac­uees are bring­ing their large and small an­i­mals in the Wood­land Hills sec­tion of Los An­ge­les on Fri­day.

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