Smoke from the Woolsey Fire as seen from Santa Monica.

A fast-moving wildfire threatened the City of Malibu Friday, forcing evacuations for most the entire city.

A city-wide evacuation was ordered early Friday and then was scaled back. However, it was reinstated as one of California’s major wildfires bore down on the enclave called home by many Hollywood stars.

Traffic was jammed for much of the day along the 21 miles of the city and some residents evacuated to the parking lot of popular Zuma Beach. Northbound traffic along the Pacific Coast Highway was eventually stopped at the McClure Tunnel to allow all four lanes to be used to bring evacuees south.

The fire erupted Thursday at about 3 p.m. near the northwest corner of the city of Los Angeles as the region’s notorious Santa Ana winds gusted, triggering overnight evacuations of an estimated 75,000 homes in western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County.

The Woolsey Fire jumped the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon Road and Chesebro Road. The 101 Freeway was closed in both directions from Las Virgenes Road to Reyes Adobe Road. There were power outages in the Big Rock and Carbon Beach areas of Malibu. Traffic signals were out on PCH from Topanga Canyon Road to John Tyler Road.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeted that the fire raging through the Santa Monica Mountains was headed to the ocean and described the fire as an “Imminent threat!”

The City of Malibu worked to provide evacuation information to all residents including information for large animal storage (the Zuma Beach parking lot in Malibu and Hansen Dam Equestrian Center). The City also worked to encourage residents to stay out of canyon roads and utilize the Pacific Coast Highway as their exit route.

Evacuated residents were being sent to Pierce College or Palisades Charter High School after the Taft High School Shelter reached capacity.

At the same time, another fire was burning farther west in Ventura County, also moving toward the ocean.

At a joint press conference to provide information, several officials credited the cooperation of various departments for helping save lives and said residents who are asked to leave should do so immediately.

“This is a very stressful time,” said Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks. “Many of our first responders haven’t slept and throughout the state of California, there are fires so there isn’t as much support as we need. If you have a mandatory evacuation, leave. We don’t want any tragedies, we don’t want any deaths, we don’t want any injuries so please be safe out there.”

Corey Rose, Assistant Chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department said agencies like Ventura County Fire, Cal Fire, Ventura and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Departments and LAPD are working well together to reach residents who need to be evacuated.

“It’s been a long night and I just want to thank the community for being so resilient and listening to the evacuation orders,” he said. “I know it’s never easy to do that.”

The City of Santa Monica sent a battalion chief to aid in the fight but the city was not threatened by the flames.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...

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