Woolsey Fire
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Woolsey Fire

Woolsey Fire
Woolsey Fire evacuation from Malibu on November 9, 2018.jpg
The large smoke plume from the fire encroaching on Malibu on November 9, seen from the Pacific Coast Highway
LocationLos Angeles and Ventura Counties, California, United States
Coordinates34°14?06?N 118°42?05?W / 34.2350°N 118.7013°W / 34.2350; -118.7013
Date(s)November 8-21, 2018 (2018-11-08 - 2018-11-21)
Burned area96,949 acres (39,234 ha)
CauseUnder investigation
Land useRecreational and residential
Fatalities3 civilians
Non-fatal injuries2 civilians
3 firefighters
Woolsey Fire is located in the United States
Woolsey Fire
Woolsey Fire is located in California
Woolsey Fire
Woolsey Fire is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Woolsey Fire

The Woolsey Fire was a destructive wildfire that burned in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties of the U.S. state of California. The fire ignited on November 8, 2018 and burned 96,949 acres (39,234 hectares) of land. The fire destroyed 1,643 structures,[4] killed three people, and prompted the evacuation of more than 295,000 people.[3] It was one of several fires in California that ignited on the same day. While the nearby Hill Fire was contained with minimal damage on November 16,[5] the Camp Fire in northern California destroyed most of the town of Paradise.[6]

The fire started in Woolsey Canyon on Boeing's[]Santa Susana Field Laboratory property in the Santa Susana Mountains above the Simi Valley near the boundary between Los Angeles and Ventura counties.[7] The Santa Ana winds, which often are a factor for Southern California fires, pushed the fire in a southerly direction throughout the first day.[8][9] The Ventura freeway between the San Fernando Valley and the Conejo Valley was closed as the fire crossed and headed into the rugged Santa Monica Mountains.

The fire raced through the chaparral-covered steep canyons where it encountered historic movie and TV sets, small ranches, and the homes of celebrities.[10] Hundreds of homes in Malibu were destroyed or damaged on both sides of Pacific Coast Highway. Many of these were on Point Dume that juts out from the narrow coastal terrace that lies between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. While the firefighters successfully protected Pepperdine University to the south, the entire portion of the Malibu coast west to the community of Solromar suffered damage from the fire. Thousands of residents were kept away from their homes in numerous neighborhoods along the Ventura Freeway and the communities along the Malibu coast. The evacuations frustrated residents as they lasted for many days as the fire continued to threaten homes especially when the winds increased and fanned the flames. The evacuated residents were incrementally allowed to return to see if their home were damaged or destroyed as the fire continued to spread through the rugged wilderness at the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains. Authorities in many of the damaged communities declared they needed to prevent residents from returning quickly as neighborhoods were crowded with crews repairing downed power lines and other hazardous conditions.

Populations affected by the fire are growing increasingly critical of the slow and inadequate response of the Los Angeles County Fire Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol poor handling of the evacuation; and the city of Malibu lack of preparation and overall response during and after the fire.[11][12][13][14][15]

California Public Utilities Commission launched a probe into Southern California Edison who reported a problem with a transmission grid at the point of origin 2 minutes before the start of the fire.[16][17][18]


At 2:22 p.m. PST on Nov. 8, Southern California Edison reported an outage on the Big Rock 16 kV circuit out of the Chatsworth substation on the Santa Susana Field Laboratory property, south of Simi Valley, Ventura County, California.[19][20][16][21] At 2:24 p.m. PST a brush fire was reported in the same location.[22][23][24][25] The first firefighters arrived almost 20 minutes later due to complications of resources because of the nearby Hill Fire.[26] Powerful Santa Ana winds, reaching 50 to 60 mph (80 to 97 km/h), caused the fire to spread rapidly and beyond firefighting capabilities. During the overnight hours into the early morning of November 9, the fire crossed U.S. Route 101 near Calabasas and spread through Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills. Aerial suppression of the fire was unable to commence until 5:00 a.m. PST, November 9, when winds lessened enough.

On the morning of November 9, Assistant L.A. County Fire Chief Williams told KBUU-LP that his request for 70 strike teams had been denied.[27] The blaze spread rapidly throughout the day, reaching Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu by the afternoon devastating numerous homes there. Firefighters and firetrucks who did not know the area were reported idle by many frustrated citizens.[28][29] Several homeowners stayed despite the mandatory evacuation to defend their homes.[30][31]Pepperdine University in Malibu recommended that students shelter in place in specific buildings on campus rather than use the crowded highway to evacuate. Farther north, the flames spread to portions of Thousand Oaks, Bell Canyon, Oak Park.[32] and the West Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles.[33] On the day before the Hill and Woolsey fires started, residents in the Conejo Valley experienced the shooting of thirteen people in a bar including a police officer and the perpetrator. As the fires threatened the community and otherwise disrupted their routine, memorial services had to be postponed.[34]

By November 9, Cal Fire and the United States Forest Service were also helping local services with the fire.[35][36] This resulted in 3,242 firefighters being deployed to contain the blaze by the morning of November 10.[1] The fire had engulfed more than 70,000 acres (28,000 hectares) of land, forcing the evacuation of an estimated 295,000 people from 105,000 residences.[37] This included an unprecedented total evacuation of Bell Canyon,[1] Malibu,[32]Agoura Hills, Malibou Lake, and Oak Park.[1]

Before sunrise on November 14, the fire flared up in rugged wilderness at the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains with winds blowing strongly.[38] The fire burned well away from populated neighborhoods, but was threatening scattered home sites. The flare-up sent a huge column of smoke over Point Mugu and out to sea.[39]

By November 21 at 6:11 p.m. PST, the fire was 100% contained.[1]


The burn scar of the Woolsey Fire in and above Malibu dominates this aerial view.
Satellite image of the fire on November 9. The majority of western Malibu is engulfed by smoke and fire at the time of this image, with the blaze spreading into Thousand Oaks.

Many of the public and private parks and trails within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area have been closed indefinitely due to damage sustained from the fire. This includes Malibu Creek State Park and Zuma Beach.[6]

Two people were found dead in a vehicle on Mulholland Highway in Malibu.[40] Emergency personnel were unable to reach the victims when a report of a critical burn victim was relayed, due to downed power lines.[32][41] On Tuesday November 13, a third victim was discovered in the 32000 block of Lobo Canyon Road in Agoura Hills.[42] The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced on January 22, 2019 that charred human remains had been found in the burn area in Malibu and that homicide detectives were trying to determine if the victim had been killed in the flames or had met with foul play.[43]

At least 400 homes were destroyed by the fire.[32][44] Many celebrities are among those who lost their homes, including Kim Basinger,[45]Tracey E. Bregman,[46]Gerard Butler,[47]Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth,[48]Scott Derrickson,[49]Fred Durst,[50]Joe Flanigan,[51]Mike Garson,[52]Camille Grammer,[53]Daryl Hannah and Neil Young,[54]Gabe Kapler,[55]Catherine Oxenberg,[56]Lil Pump,[57]Robin Thicke,[49]Andrew von Oeyen[58] and Eric Wynalda.[59] Multiple filming locations and historical sites were directly impacted by the fire, including Paramount Ranch,[60][61]Peter Strauss Ranch,[62] the former Reagan Ranch now part of Malibu Creek State Park,[63] and the lower house of Villa De La Vina,[64] the mansion where The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are filmed.[65] The numerous drug rehabilitation centers and sober living houses in Malibu that have given rise to the nickname "Rehab Riviera" were evacuated ahead of the fire. At least two were destroyed or significantly damaged.[66] Three Jewish camps JCA Shalom, Gindling Hilltop, and camp Hess Kramer were all almost completely devestated in the fire too.[67]

There have been two cases of looting in Ventura County, one of which resulted in a car chase.[40]

Reporters and officials rescued animals from homes, and brought them to shelters and vets.[68] Other animals at locations such as Malibu Wines were either evacuated or cared for at the locations.[69] Local fire officials opened Zuma Beach as an evacuation point for large animals, with pictures by the Los Angeles Times, showing llamas, alpacas, and horses tied to lifeguard stations and poles.[70]

Response by President Donald Trump

On November 10, President Donald Trump blamed poor forest management by the state of California as the cause of the Woolsey Fire and the concurrent Camp Fire. In a controversial tweet,[71] the President threatened to end federal assistance unless the state improves its "gross mismanagement of the forests."[72][73][74][75]

The small groves of California sycamores and coast live oaks amidst the sage and chaparral covered hillsides in the area of the fire are not considered to be forests as commonly understood by the public or wildfire experts.[75] Since these small, critical habitats are not logged, President Trump's statements had little relevance to the Southern California fire.[73] Further, much of the area burned is within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a national park and the responsibility of the federal government.[]

The firemens' union disagreed with President Trump's claims, noting that California is experiencing unusually dry conditions and abnormally high fire danger.[74] Brian Rice, president of the California Professional Firefighters, described Trump's assertion about the state's forest management practices as "dangerously wrong," noting that 60 percent of California forests are directly managed by the federal government, which has reduced spending on forestry in recent years.[76][75]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Woolsey Fire General Information". CAL FIRE. California. November 8, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ "Woolsey Fire Incident Update". Los Angeles County Fire Department. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ a b Gonzales, Ruby; Cain, Josh (November 14, 2018). "Woolsey fire death toll increases to 3, body found in charred Agoura Hills home". San Gabriel Valley Newspapers. Retrieved 2018 – via The Mercury News.
  4. ^ a b "Woolsey Fire Incident Update". Los Angeles County Fire Department. Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ Hersko,, Tyler (November 16, 2018). "Investigators point to human activity as cause of Hill Fire; containment at 100 percent". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ a b Forgione, Mary (November 9, 2018). "SoCal wildfires temporarily close Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu parks and beaches". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ "Woolsey Canyon". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  8. ^ Chandler, Jenna (November 9, 2018). "Ventura County's Woolsey Fire moving south, Malibu under evacuation". Curbed. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ Haskell, Josh (November 11, 2018). "Woolsey Fire: Forecast calls for high winds in burn area as containment increases to 10 percent". ABC7. ABC. Retrieved 2018.
  10. ^ LOPEZ, STEVE (November 14, 2018). "It wasn't just the rich who lost homes in the Malibu area. Is fire California's great equalizer?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ "LA County fire chief faces tough questions about Woolsey response". Daily News. 2019-01-27. Retrieved .
  12. ^ www.malibusurfsidenews.com https://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/f/news-police-fire-city/la-county-fire-chief-addresses-contemptuous-crowd-town-hall-meeting. Retrieved . Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Tallal, Jimy. "Fire Chief Faces Vitriolic Malibu Crowd". Malibu Times. Retrieved .
  14. ^ Hamilton, Matt. "L.A. County and Malibu will study the Woolsey wildfire response in a 'new era of threat'". latimes.com. Retrieved .
  15. ^ www.malibusurfsidenews.com https://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/f/news-city/council-mulls-independent-review-city-manager-staff's-fire-response. Retrieved . Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ a b "Edison Reports Circuit Problem Near Woolsey Fire Origin | San Fernando Valley Business Journal". www.sfvbj.com. Retrieved .
  17. ^ Service, City News. "SCE Investigated for Possible Role in Woolsey Fire". NBC Southern California. Retrieved .
  18. ^ Oaks, Vivian Ho Gabrielle Canon in Thousand (2018-11-17). "How did California's wildfires start? Two utility companies face scrutiny". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved .
  19. ^ "New lawsuit blames Southern California Edison for Woolsey Fire". USA TODAY. Retrieved .
  20. ^ about, Jovana Lara, bio (2018-11-12). "SCE: Substation outage occurred before Woolsey Fire reported". ABC7 Los Angeles. Retrieved .
  21. ^ "Lieff Cabraser Files Lawsuit Against Southern California Edison for Losses and Damages Arising From the 2018 Woolsey Fire". AP NEWS. 2018-12-21. Retrieved .
  22. ^ "Woolsey Fire Burns Rocketdyne: Massive Woolsey Fire Began On Contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory Close to Site of Partial Meltdown. Electric Substation at SSFL Tripped 2 Minutes Before Fire Reported". Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition. November 12, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  23. ^ Ortiz, Erik (November 14, 2018). "Activists concerned after wildfire ripped through nuclear research site". NBC News. Retrieved 2018.
  24. ^ "Electrical Circuit Went Down 2 Minutes Before Woolsey Fire Was Reported, SoCal Edison Says". KTLA. 2018-11-12. Retrieved .
  25. ^ "Massive Woolsey Fire Began On Contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory, Close to Site of Partial Meltdown | Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles". Retrieved .
  26. ^ Gabbert, Bill (November 14, 2018). "Initial attack on Woolsey Fire was hampered by shortage of resources". Wildfire Today. Retrieved 2019.
  27. ^ "LA Fire Trucks Sent to Nor Cal Fire Left Malibu Undefended, Chief Says". www.radiomalibu.net. December 5, 2018. Retrieved .
  28. ^ "Amateur firefighters say they saved most of their Malibu neighborhood from the Woolsey fire". Daily News. 2018-11-11. Retrieved .
  29. ^ "LA County fire chief faces tough questions about Woolsey response". Daily News. 2019-01-27. Retrieved .
  30. ^ Chandler, Jenna (2018-12-05). "Malibu residents vow not to evacuate in next fire". Curbed LA. Retrieved .
  31. ^ "Despite evacuation orders, some Malibu residents 'stay and defend' homes". KCRW. 2018-12-13. Retrieved .
  32. ^ a b c d "Woolsey Fire Doubles To 70,000 Acres, Destroys 150+ Homes And Forces Evacuation Of 250,000". CBS Los Angeles. CBS. November 10, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  33. ^ Chandler, Jenna (13 November 2018). "Residents returning home as LA wildfire scorches 96,314 acres". Curbed LA. Retrieved 2018.
  34. ^ "Hwy 101 closed in Ventura County after wildfire jumps highway". Associated Press. November 8, 2018. Retrieved 2018 – via KSBY.
  35. ^ "Cal Fire". Woolsey Fire News. Retrieved 2019.
  36. ^ "USDA Forest Service Supports California Fire Suppression Efforts". US Forest Service. Retrieved 2019.
  37. ^ "2 killed in Woolsey Fire as it surpasses 83,200 acres". KSBY 6. NBC. November 10, 2018. Archived from the original on November 10, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  38. ^ MYERS, AMANDA LEE; SKOLOFF, BRIAN (November 14, 2018). "3rd body reportedly found in Southern California fire zone". The Columbian. Retrieved 2019 – via Associated Press.
  39. ^ Stallworth, Leo; Gregory, John; Garcia, Sid (November 14, 2018). "Woolsey Fire: Containment increases to 62 percent as fire burns 98,300 acres". KABC. Retrieved 2018.
  40. ^ a b Bravo, Kristina; Fenoglio, John; Lynn, Tim; Von Quednow, Cindy (November 10, 2018). "Woolsey Fire 5 Percent Contained at 109 Square Miles; 2 Found Dead in Malibu Were 'Severely Burned'". KTLA 5. Retrieved 2018.
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  42. ^ Li, David K. (November 14, 2018). "Sierra Fire erupts near Los Angeles as death toll rises in Woolsey Fire: The latest death brings the statewide total to 51, which is mostly attributed to the 48 who have been confirmed killed in the Camp Fire 500 miles north in Butte County". NBC News. Retrieved 2018.
  43. ^ "Charred human remains found in Malibu area burned by wildfire". Reuters. 2019-01-23. Retrieved .
  44. ^ Stiles, Matt; Schleuss, Jon. "Woolsey fire likely worst ever to hit Malibu, with home losses topping $1.6 billion". www.latimes.com. Retrieved .
  45. ^ "Ireland Baldwin Accused of Looting During Malibu Fire, Reveals Mom Kim Basinger 'Lost' Her Home". People. November 12, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
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  48. ^ Rahman, Abid (12 November 2018). "Miley Cyrus' Home Burns Down in California Fires". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018.
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  51. ^ "Joe Flanigan on Instagram: "House gone. But I am grateful for the many great years Malibu has given me and my children. Now, trying to help neighbors save their..."". Instagram. Retrieved .
  52. ^ @mikegarson (10 November 2018). "The fire situation in the Los Angeles area is terrible" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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  58. ^ "Andrew Grams and the Dallas Symphony worked magic with Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker,' less elsewhere". Dallas News. 2018-11-23. Retrieved .
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  61. ^ Deb, Sopan (November 10, 2018). "Set for 'Westworld' and Other Shows Destroyed in California Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018.
  62. ^ Johnson, Scott (12 November 2018). "Historic Hollywood Sites Destroyed as Woolsey Fire Burns". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018.
  63. ^ Carter, Ryan (November 10, 2018). "Western Town, Reagan Ranch, Santa Susana Field Lab: The Woolsey fire torched them, but spared other famous sites". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2018.
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  65. ^ Strause, Jackie (November 9, 2018). "'The Bachelor' Mansion Burning Amid California Wildfires". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018.
  66. ^ Seth Abramovitch (November 11, 2018). "Multiple Rehab Facilities Destroyed in Malibu Fires". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018.
  67. ^ Torok, Ryan. "Three Beloved Camps Destroyed in Fires". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2019.
  68. ^ "Woolsey Fire: Reporter helps burned cat get emergency care". ABC7 Chicago. November 9, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  69. ^ "Good news, California: Stanley the Giraffe is OK!". ABC7 Chicago. November 10, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  70. ^ "The animals caught in wildfire destruction". BBC News. November 12, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  71. ^ Zauzmer, Emily (November 12, 2018). "Miley Cyrus & Neil Young lose homes in California fires as he slams 'unfit' Trump". People. Retrieved 2018.
  72. ^ Deruy, Emily (November 10, 2018). "Trump blames poor forest management for California fires, threatens to revoke funding". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2018.
  73. ^ a b Becerra, Hector; Grad, Shelby (November 10, 2018). "Trump's erroneous claims about cause of California fires don't add up". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018.
  74. ^ a b Wade, Peter (November 10, 2018). "California Wildfires Kill At Least 9 as Trump Blames the State". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018.
  75. ^ a b c Pierre-Louis, Kendra (November 12, 2018). "Trump's Misleading Claims About California's Fire 'Mismanagement'". Fact Check. The New York Times. Retrieved . "These fires aren't even in forests," said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
  76. ^ Tweet by Jose Del Real, November 10, 2018

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