Woolsey Fire spreads to 143 square miles as containment increases to 20 percent

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Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby gave reporters an update on the Woolsey Fire at a news conference on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018.

Windy conditions and low humidity were of no help to firefighters Monday morning as they made incremental progress against the Woolsey Fire, which spread to 91,572 acres overnight as its containment inched upward to 20 percent.

The day after the 101 Freeway was reopened, some areas were beginning to repopulate. Evacuation orders remained in place for the entire cities of Malibu and Calabasas.

Huge plumes of smoke still rose in the fire area, which stretches miles from the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley to the Malibu coast. Airplanes and helicopters swooped low over hills and canyons to drop loads of fire retardant and water.

MORE: Evacuation orders and road closures for Woolsey Fire
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The entire city of Malibu remained under a mandatory evacuation order on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, as the Woolsey Fire continued to rage.

A one-day lull in the dry Santa Ana winds ended at mid-morning Sunday and authorities warned that the gusts would continue through Tuesday.

The lull allowed firefighters to gain some measure of control of the Woolsey Fire, which has burned 143 square miles in western Los Angeles County and southeastern Ventura County since Thursday afternoon. The death toll stood at two.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby stressed there were numerous hotspots and plenty of fuel that had not yet burned, but at sunset he said there had been huge successes despite "a very challenging day."

MORE: Multiple homes burned by Woolsey Fire in Oak Park area
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Several homes near Kellwood Court and Churchwood Drive in the Oak Park area were destroyed or severely damaged by the relentless Woolsey Fire.

Osby noted that a November 1993 wildfire in Malibu destroyed more than 270 homes and said he would not be surprised if the total from the current fire would be higher.

Those fears were realized Monday morning when Cal Fire announced that an estimated 370 structures have been destroyed and two others were damaged. Some 57,000 remained threatened.

At a Monday morning news conference, Osby said at least 200,000 people remain evacuated, though some have been allowed to return home in certain areas.

The fire's cause remained under investigation, but Southern California Edison reported to the California Public Utilities Commission that there was an outage on an electrical circuit near where it started as gusty winds blew through the region.

SoCal Edison said the report was submitted out of an abundance of caution although there was no indication from fire officials that its equipment may have been involved. The report said the fire was reported around 2:24 p.m. Thursday, two minutes after the outage.

When asked about this, Osby admitted he had not personally seen the SoCal Edison report.

"The only thing that I can tell you at this moment is that the fire is still under investigation at the origin, and we're not ruling out anything. We're looking at human cause, arson, utilities, and once we can get to the point where we can release our findings, which we don't have any yet, once we can release those publicly, we will," the chief said.

Full containment of the wildfire is not expected until Nov. 15, Cal Fire said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related Topics:
brush firefirefighterscal fireevacuationWoolsey FirewindVentura CountyLos Angeles CountyMalibuThousand Oaks
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