Santa Ana Winds Could Push Hill Fire All the Way to the Pacific Ocean, Ventura County Fire Official Says

Santa Ana Winds Could Push Hill Fire All the Way to the Pacific Ocean, Ventura County Fire Official Says
Ventura County brush fires: Homes go up in flames in Thousand Oaks, Oak Park area
Firefighters worked through the night to protect homes in the path of a fast-moving wildfire that tore through hillside brush in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, riding strong wind gusts through neighborhoods and across a major Southern California freeway. 

The Woolsey fires forced evacuations in communities northwest of Los Angeles after it began Thursday afternoon amid warm, dry and windy conditions. The fire is threatening about 30,000 homes Friday morning as strong winds cast embers that ignited smaller spot fires and pushed the fire across Highway 101 in the Agoura Hills area.

Large fires threaten Ventura County communities; 101 Freeway closed, more than 1,000 homes evacuated – Los Ang

“The wind-whipped conditions … this is ripe conditions for explosive fire behavior,” said LAFD Capt. Erik Scott. “This is the new normal. When we have conditions like this, when its such incredible wind, that brings us in to a different caliber, so its become a much more challenging condition.”

A Los Angeles County Fire Department battalion chief told NBC4 the flames could burn “for days.” 

The fast-moving Woolsey fire grew overnight as it spread from the Simi Valley area into Agoura Hills, jumping Highway 101. Meghan Reyes reported for Today in LA on Friday Nov. 9, 2018.

Many homes have been destroyed, but firefighters did not have a firm number Friday morning as wind continued to push flames toward the south.

“The winds havent died down, and thats unfortunate,” said NBC4 forecaster Shanna Mendiola. “Winds are gusting anywhere between 40 to 50 mph, strong enough to carry theses embers. We do expect these winds to die down, but not completely go away.”

Woolsey Fire in Ventura County quadruples overnight; 30,000 evacuated

The fires are burning in a community that was already reeling from a mass shooting that left 12 victims dead Wednesday night at a Thousand Oaks bar. The Thousand Oaks Teen Center was a family unification center Thursday, a place where families anxiously waited for updates on loved ones who were at the Borderline Bar. On Friday, the center was an evacuation center for people fleeing the fire. 

By early Friday, the Woolsey fire burning in Los Angeles and Ventura counties burned 8,000 acres, was zero percent contained and damaged multiple structures. About 75,000 homes in the two counties are under evacuation orders, according to Los Angeles County Fire.

“I think a lot of people should realize this is what your valuable life leads to,” said a man from Ventura County as he pointed at his truck. “Plastic bags on the back of your pick-up truck.”

Along with assisting the growth of the fire, the high winds also deterred air support in battling the flames.

Firefighters faced difficult conditions as strong overnight winds fanned flames that burned homes in a Thousand Oaks neighborhood on Whiteside Place. John Cadiz Klemack reports for Today in LA on Friday Nov. 9, 2018.

The Woolsey Fire was first reported around 3:30 p.m. and by 4:45 p.m. It started east of Chatsworth near a former Rocketdyne facility.

Fall is historically one of the most dangerous times of the year for wildfires in California. Seven of the states 10-most destructive wildfires occurred in October — many fueled by monster winds, including Santa Ana gusts.

Through Nov. 4, Cal Fire has reported about 5,600 fires that burned more than 621,700 acres. During that same period last year, the agency reported 5,800 fire that burned 316,600 acres. Over the last five years, California has averaged 5,293 fires that burned 231,400 acres during that interval.

The Woolsey Fire in Ventura County quadrupled overnight to 8,000 acres. 30,000 people were evacuated. Nov. 9, 2018

The Woolsey Fire in Ventura County quadrupled overnight to 8,000 acres. 30,000 people were evacuated. Nov. 9, 2018

The Woolsey Fire in Ventura County quadrupled overnight to 8,000 acres. 30,000 people were evacuated. Nov. 9, 2018

The Woolsey Fire in Ventura County quadrupled overnight to 8,000 acres. 30,000 people were evacuated. Nov. 9, 2018

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KTTV) – Ventura County’s fire quadrupled overnight scorching 8,000 acres by Friday morning and zero percent containment, firefighters said.

For the Woolsey Fire, firefighters issued a new mandatory evacuation order south of the U.S. Highway 101 freeway north of Portrero Road because Westlake Boulevard and Wendy Drive. Caltrans closed portions of 101 as the fire jumped the highway near Chesebro Road.

As of 6 a.m., 101 was closed in both directions at Liberty Canyon Road. The fire was moving uphill and toward Malibu, firefighters said. 

Not too far away, firefighters were also battling the Hill Fire, which broke out along Hill Canyon in Santa Rosa Valley. Early Friday morning, CalFire said it had burned 10,000 acres, or about 15 square miles.

Both fires were zero percent contained on Friday morning, and CalFire authorities said that the strong winds lasting through at least Saturday morning would continue to pose huge challenges to fire crews.

"We've been pushing this and pushing this," CalFire Capt. Scott McLean said in a phone interview early Friday morning. When those evacuations come, you have to go. There's  no arguing. You have to go." 

The Woolsey Fire, broke out on Thursday, not too far from the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, where a gunman killed 12 people enjoying country line dancing at college night before killing himself.  

#Woolseyfire *UPDATE* Fire is at approx. 8000 acres. 0% Containment. New Mandatory evacuation orders south of 101 fwy north of Potrero rd. between Westlake bl. & Wendy dr. Evacs. in Hidden Hills area of LA County and @LAFD operational area have been down graded to voluntary. pic.twitter.com/M56hLCGzCC


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