Along with assisting the growth of the fire, the high winds also deterred air support in battling the flames
Kelly Whitney and Shahan Ahmed
Published Nov 8, 2018 at 4:56 PM | Updated 21 minutes ago
Firefighters are working through the night to protect about homes from two large Ventura and Los Angeles county wildfires that were whipped by strong winds that cast barrages of embers into the air.
The Woolsey and Hill fires forced evacuations in communities northwest of Los Angeles after they began Thursday afternoon amid warm, dry and windy conditions. The Woolsey fire is threatening about 30,000 homes Friday morning.
“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 it’s such incredible wind, that brings us in to a different caliber, so it’s become a much more challenging condition.”
A Los Angeles County Fire Department battalion chief told NBC4 the flames could burn “for days.”
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.
Initially, Bell Canyon’s Saddlebow Road between Maverick Lane and Morgan Road were evacuated, but residents of Oak Park were soon ordered out as the fire threatened the community. As the fire spread, at least 15 to 20 homes caught fire in Oak Park.
The Los Angeles Fire Department tweeted shortly before midnight that mandatory evacuations were in effect for all residents north of the 101 Freeway, south of Bell Canyon Road, west of Valley Circle Boulevard, east to city of LA limits. The LAFD later changed the city of LA mandatory evacuations to voluntary at 2:20 a.m.
Ventura County firefighters reported no fatalities or severe injuries as of approximately 2:30 a.m., but also stated that the fire was threatening to cross the 101 Freeway at Westlake Boulevard.
In addition, Malibu Emergency Services announced evacuations south of the 101 Freeway between Westlake Blvd on the west, Mulholland Highway on the south and Las Virgenes on the east. At approximately 1:30 a.m. on Friday morning, Malibu Search and Rescue announced that the Malibu Lake area was also under mandatory evacuations with concern that the fire could jump the 101 Freeway.
At approximately 2:40 a.m., Lake Sherwood was under voluntary evacuation orders per the Malibu Search and Rescue.
For the latest evacuations, residents were urged to check the Ventura County’s Emergency Information website here.
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.
The Hill Fire burned just five miles away in Newbury Park, forcing more than 1,200 homes to evacuate and prompting the closure of the 101 Freeway. For coverage of that fire, click here.
This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.