Woolsey Fire containment increases to 62 percent as repopulation efforts continue

BySid Garcia, Josh Haskell, and ABC7.com staff KABC logo
Friday, November 16, 2018
Woolsey Fire 62 percent contained as repopulation efforts continue
Containment of the Woolsey Fire rose Thursday as firefighters continued to make progress against the massive blaze.

MALIBU, Calif. (KABC) -- Firefighters rose the containment of the massive Woolsey Fire again Thursday, as repopulation efforts continued.

The blaze was 62 percent contained and 98,362 acres in size, Los Angeles County fire officials said.

In the fire area that affected many suburbs of Los Angeles, some evacuation orders remain in effect but many areas have been repopulated.

MORE: Evacuation orders and road closures for Woolsey Fire

Malibu resident Lee O'Keefe has spent the past week living at her mother's house in Newport Beach. She raced home to Malibu when she heard her Corral Canyon neighborhood was no longer under a mandatory evacuation, but she couldn't get through.

"I keep turning around, turning around because there's no reception on the phones. I know they're doing the best they can. Everybody is trying to keep everybody safe," she said.

Point Dume resident Kristen Jaman never evacuated, but her family has been running low on food so she made a run to Ralph's at the Malibu Colony Plaza.

"Everybody got text messages saying, 'Ralph's is open, there's food, fresh food.' So food, I'm like, 'Great, I'm going to get some food,' and now they're like, 'No, you can't come home...'"

Though more evacuation orders are lifted, it's slowgoing throughout Malibu, and much of the city is still in the dark.

"They all want to let people go home. That's our goal, but we just can't right now in certain areas and it's for their safety," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Capt. Darren Harris. "It's for the safety of all these workers that you see behind me. It's for the safety of all the first responders and second responders that are trying to bring infrastructure back to this community."

The containment keeps rising, but valuable infrastructure has been destroyed throughout the city, and officials don't want to repopulate until it's safe.

"We're dealing with power outages, gas leaks, water main issues," Harris added. "We're dealing with, obviously downed power poles, with trees that have fallen."

PHOTOS: Southern California wildfires burn in Malibu, Agoura Hills

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President Donald Trump visits a neighborhood impacted by the Woolsey Fire, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Malibu, Calif.
Evan Vucci/AP Photo

The Woolsey Fire is one of the largest on record for Los Angeles County, dating back more than 100 years. The fire has destroyed at least 504 structures and damaged 96 others, according to the L.A. County Fire Department. Approximately 57,000 more are still threatened.

Early Thursday morning, a firefighter from Washington state was injured after being struck by a civilian vehicle while battling the Woolsey Fire. The firefighter, who is from South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, suffered non life-threatening injuries.

Authorities are continuing to investigate a body found Wednesday in a completely burned home in Agoura Hills. Two other people were found dead in a burned-out car near Malibu earlier during the fire.

The cause of the Woolsey Fire remained under investigation.