Santa Ana winds fuel firestorm as firefighters battle Hill, Woolsey fires in Southern California

Santa Ana winds fuel firestorm as firefighters battle Hill, Woolsey fires in Southern California
Large fires threaten Ventura County communities; 101 Freeway closed, more than 1,000 homes evacuated – Los Ang
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 fire 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 the 101 Freeway in the Agoura Hills area.

Woolsey Fire: Massive Wind-Driven Blaze Along Ventura-L.A. County Line Destroys Homes, Forces 30K People to Evacuate

Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Friday  due to the destructive Woolsey Fire and nearby Hill Fire.

Evacuations ordered as Woolsey Fire grows overnight

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.

“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.”

Early Friday, the Woolsey fire burned 10,000 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.

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.”

The fires burned 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. 

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.

Woolsey Fire east of Simi Valley being pushed by Santa Ana winds

“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.”

What to Know About the Woolsey Fire: Evacuation Information

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

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.

Local law enforcement, firefighters head to Ventura County to help with wildfire response

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.

Not only has the Woolsey Fire forced evacuations, it also caused transformers to explode at homes. Toni Guinyard reports for NBC4 News on Nov. 9, 2018.

A fast-moving brush fire fueled by strong, erratic winds and low humidity charred as many as 7,000 acres Thursday in the Newbury Park-Thousand Oaks area, forcing evacuations and shutting down a section of the 101 Freeway as scores of firefighters, aided by air tankers, worked to quell the flames.

The Hill fire broke out sometime around 2 p.m. in the Santa Rosa Valley near Santa Rosa Road, according to Ventura County Fire Department officials. Capt. Brian McGrath said that by 3 p.m., the blaze had quickly burned through thousands of acres near the border of Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks.

The Woolsey fire, in the meantime, was burning structures late Thursday and evacuation orders were issued for Oak Park, a community near the Los Angeles County border; and for a nearby section of Los Angeles. Also evacuated early Friday were parts of Bell Canyon and Thousand Oaks.

And a new fire broke out near the 118 Freeway in the Simi Valley area, prompting closure of eastbound lanes early Friday.

#Woolseyfire *UPDATE* Fire has entered LA County, Multiple structures have been impacted in the Oak Park area, Reyes Adobe north of T.O. Blvd. It is critical that residents pay close attention to evacuation orders. This is a very dangerous wind driven fire.

#WoolseyFire; MANDATORY EVACUATIONS. All residents in LA County, LA City & Ventura County. North of 101 Fwy, South of Bell Canyon Rd., West of Valley Circle, East of Erbes Rd. Also North of Kanan Rd, West of Lindero Canyon to Erbes Rd extending North to Sunset Hills Bl.

This map shows where the Hill fire and Woolsey fire are burning

#WoolseyFire Update – Firefighters actively defending structures on north Lindero Cyn Rd. Mandatory evacuation order for all of #OakPark.

Down the road from the Thousand Oaks shooting, people are being evacuated because of a wildfire

Local residents use garden hoses to wet down their homes Friday morning. The Santa Rosa fire has exploded to 8,000 acres Friday morning. Approximately 75,000 homes are under evacuation orders along the Ventura-Los Angeles border. (Photo by Gene Blevins/DailyNews/Contributing Photographer)

Travis Lundgren, a street maintenance worker, uses a cooler of ice and water to help put out a flair up along Rancho Conejo Blvd. during the Hill Fire in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Mandatory Evacuations Issued As Newbury Park Fire Rages, Portion Of 101 Freeway Reopens

Firefighters battle the Santa Rosa fire that has exploded to 8,000 acres amid even stronger winds early Friday. Approximately 75,000 homes are under evacuation orders along the Ventura-Los Angeles border. (Photo by Gene Blevins/DailyNews/Contributing Photographer)

The Hill Fire burns in the hills east of Conejo Center Drive in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Highway 101 closed in both directions near Camarillo, Newbury Park in Ventura County

A two story barn is engulf in flames as firefighters battlethe Santa Rosa fire that has exploded to 8,000 acres Friday morning. Approximately 75,000 homes are under evacuation orders along the Ventura-Los Angeles border. (Photo by Gene Blevins/DailyNews/Contributing Photographer)

A CHP officer checks on residents in Camarillo Springs as wind-driven flames from the Hill fire move closer. The fire department reported the fire has already burned more than 10,000 acres. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Fire erupts in southern Calif., only miles from location of tragic Thousand Oaks shooting

A water dropping helicopter heads to fill up as the sun sets during the Hill Fire in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

A two story barn is engulf in flames as firefighters battle the Santa Rosa fire that has exploded to 8,000 acres Friday morning. Approximately 75,000 homes are under evacuation orders along the Ventura-Los Angeles border. (Photo by Gene Blevins/DailyNews/Contributing Photographer)

A firefighter releases water dropping helicopters after they filled up near Conejo Center Drive during the Hill Fire in Thousand Oaks, CA, on Thursday, Nov 8, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Fire Breaks Out In Ventura County Near Thousand Oaks

Smoke from from the Hill fire rolls over a completely empty US 101 freeway Thursday evening in Camarillo Springs. The fire department reported the fire has already burned more than 10,000 acres. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Huge thick smoke clouds glow in the night from the Santa Rosa and Woosley fires Thursday night into Friday morning. The Santa Rosa fire as of Friday morning has exploded to 8,000 acres amid even stronger winds early Friday. Approximately 75,000 homes are under evacuation orders along the Ventura-Los Angeles border. (Photo by Gene Blevins/DailyNews/Contributing Photographer)

A dozer moves in on flames from the Hill fire burning along Santa Rosa road in Newbury Park Thursday afternoon. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A dozer moves in on flames from the Hill fire burning along Santa Rosa road in Newbury Park Thursday afternoon. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Expand Chad Cook, Assistant Chief for the Ventura County Fire Department, said that by Thursday night the Hill fire had burned between 5,000 and 7,000 acres.

Cook said the fire started in the Hill Canyon area and was “pushed by an east wind and crossed the 101 Freeway in about 12 minutes.”

McGrath said the flames threatened homes and prompted mandatory evacuations in the Camarillo Springs Area. Affected residents were being directed to the Borchard Community Center, 190 Reino Road, according to social media updates from firefighters. McGrath said it was not immediately clear how many people had been displaced.

Heres a Hill Fire, Woolsey Fire evacuation map, list of shelters

The fire department issued mandatory evacuation notices while a voluntary evacuation notice was issued for the Point Mugu Naval Base.

Oak Park: Multiple homes burned by Woolsey Fire

Ventura County fire said the Rancho Santa Susana Recreation Center, along with the Borchard and Camarillo Community Centers were evacuation centers.

Two Brush Fires Burning Out Of Control In Ventura County; Highway 101 Closed

Video taken by an officer manning a closure on US 101. #hillfire @VCFD @CityofTO @VENTURASHERIFF pic.twitter.com/1LGVUOMHgB

Twenty-mile-per-hour winds whipped through the area as 165 firefighters battled the fire with support from eight air tankers in the afternoon. Cook said roughly 500 firefighters were working the fire as of 8 p.m., with many more available.

“We don’t have any confirmed commercial or residential structure loss, but we have lost trailers,” Cook said.

Wind driving 10000-acre brush fire toward ocean

Officials said the Hill fire was expected to follow the same trail as the Springs fire in May 2013 fire that burned around 24,000 acres, and make its way to Pacific Coast Highway.

“The first part of this fuel bed, where the fire started, hadn’t seen fires in many years,” Cook said.

The nearby Hill Canyon Waste Water Treatment Plant and Viceto Trailer park were some of the first places evacuated, according to social media posts from Ventura County firefighters.

Hill Fire in Newbury Park shuts down U.S. 101 to Camarillo

A closure of a portion of the 101 was ordered at 2:50 p.m. and by 3:40 p.m. it was shut down from Lewis Road to Route 23, according to California Highway Patrol Officer James Miconi.

CSU Channel Islands also ordered a mandatory evacuation of the campus due to fire. All classes and activities were canceled Thursday evening, a school official said, and students who live on campus have been asked to evacuate and go home, stay with a friend or head north of the campus.

Also burning in the region was the Woolsey fire, which had charred more than 2,000 acres in the Woolsey Canyon area of Ventura County, CalFire officials said. Los Angeles County firefighters were assisting with that blaze.

Fast-moving Hill fire in Newbury Park-Thousand Oaks area scorches up to 7,000 acres, forces evacuations

Oak Park was ordered evacuated and by early Friday the evacuations extended into part of Los Angeles County.

Residents affected by the #WoolseyFire who have animals, please take them to @PierceCollegeCA 6201 Winnetka Ave, Woodland Hills #LASD @LHSLASD @MalibuSAR @LACoFD pic.twitter.com/Po85ZVZZHZ

8-10000 acre fast-moving brush fire breaks out in Camarillo

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said residents of Calabasas, Hidden Hills and Agoura Hills should prepare for evacuations.

Both the Hill and Woolsey fires also resulted in the Ventura County Office of Education cancelling classes for a host of schools throughout the area, including all schools in the Conejo Valley Unified, Hueneme Elementary, Las Virgenes, Mesa Union, Oak Park Unified, Oxnard Elementary, Oxnard Union High, Pleasant Valley, Rio and Somis Union School Districts.

Several Ventura County charter schools also cancelled Friday classes, including ACE Charter High School, Bridges Charter School, River Oaks Academy and Vista Real Charter High School.

The Ventura County Office of Education also closed several other schools and sites for Friday, including the ACCESS School, Dean Triggs School, Dwire School, Gateway Community School, Hathaway Preschool, James Foster School, La Mariposa Elementary School, Las Colinas Middle School, the VCOE classroom at Moorpark High School, Phoenix-Airport, Phoenix-Los Nogales, Phoenix-Moorpark, Pleasant Valley Early Childhood Center, Ritchen Preschool, Sunkist School and Williams Preschool.

Map: Brush fires threaten SoCal communities

“Prepare a bag containing your ID, meds, important documents, emergency supplies and a change of clothes,” the sheriff’s department said on Twitter.


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