California wildfire raging near L.A. could burn for another week

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Nov. 12, 2018 / 8:19 PM GMT / Updated 10:39 PM GMT

By David K. Li

The deadly Woolsey Fire, raging across canyons and beaches of Southern California, could still be going a week from now, officials said Monday.

The wind-whipped blaze has consumed 91,572 acres since it started Thursday in Simi Valley, near the border of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, according to L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.

The fire was 20 percent contained by midday Monday. Though Osby said fire officials optimistically hope to have “knock down” status by the end of this week, full containment was still a ways off.

“As far as 100-percent containment, we’ll be out here for the next week or two trying to mop this fire up,” Osby told reporters.

Alexander Tabolsky and Dina Arias look at the destroyed home they lived in as the Woolsey Fire continues to burn in Malibu, California on Nov. 10, 2018.
Alexander Tabolsky and Dina Arias look at the destroyed home they lived in as the Woolsey Fire continues to burn in Malibu, California on Nov. 10, 2018.Eric Thayer / Reuters

An estimated 370 structures have been destroyed in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, more than double what had been estimated this past weekend.

Osby praised his firefighters and said the damage could have been much worse.

“I want to emphasize … although we’ve lost over 300 structures, we’ve estimated that there were 57,000 structure at risk that are still here,” Osby said.

Roger Kelly, 69, was lucky enough to find his home in the Seminole Springs Mobile Home Park had survived the Woolsey blaze. But when he saw that some of his neighbors weren’t so fortunate and lost it all, he broke down in tears for them.

“I just started weeping,” Kelly said. “I just broke down. Your first view of it, man it just gets you.”

The Woolsey Fire has killed at least two people.

The nearby Hill Fire, touched off near last week’s mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, was called 80 percent contained early Monday afternoon.

Southern California firefighters also had to briefly battle a 100-acre blaze, dubbed the Peak Fire, in Simi Valley on Monday. The blaze shut down State Route 118, connecting L.A. and Ventura Counties, for three hours, fire officials said.

Several runs of Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner lines endured multi-hour delays due the Peak Fire.

The massive Camp Fire continued to burn 500 miles north in Butte County, with only 25 percent containment on that blaze that’s charred 113,000 acres, officials said.

The death toll remained at 29 by early Monday afternoon, but with more than 200 people still missing, officials feared that grim number will surely grow. And high winds in the area could lead to more evacuations, officials said.

The cause of the Camp Fire is still under investigation, though the Northern California power company Pacific Gas & Electric revealed on Friday that it detected an outage on a transmission line — not far from where the massive blaze ignited, and just before the flames were first reported.

A rep for the California Public Utilities Commission said it’s launching an investigation whether the transmission outage could have any connection to the Camp Fire.

“The CPUC staff investigations may include an inspection of the fire sites once Cal Fire allows access, as well as maintenance of facilities, vegetation management, and emergency preparedness and response,” according to a statement from spokeswoman Terrie Prosper.

A rep for PG&E told NBC News on Monday the agency will fully cooperate with CPUC investigators, but declined any further comment.