Malibu resident Georgienne Bradley, a deep-sea diver and conservationist who’s known for swimming with sharks, packed her belongings and prepared to evacuate her beachfront home Friday when confronted with the deadlier threat of an uncontained wildfire.
“They say the winds are going to die down, but that’s all guesswork,” Bradley said as she packed paintings and her dog and two cats into her car. “I can’t really move on the Pacific Coast Highway, but I’m not going to just stand around and watch and then wish I had done things differently.”
President Trump had his own ideas on why the damage was so widespread.
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!
In Southern California, two fires have consumed more than 40,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Malibu, the coastal enclave of the rich and famous, was evacuated after flames swept southwest across the Santa Monica Mountains toward the ocean. The Malibu blaze, dubbed the Woolsey Fire by officials, has burned 35,000 acres in the hills northwest of Los Angeles since it began Thursday afternoon and was still nowhere near being contained. Almost 150,000 homes have been ordered evacuated, including the residences of some of the wealthiest enclaves in the country.
The conflagration has destroyed dozens of properties, including Caitlyn Jenner’s in Malibu, according to ABC7 News. Lady Gaga posted video of her evacuation from her $22.5 million ocean-view mansion. The Kardashian family, including Kim and Kourtney, posted photos of packed-up cars and updates on their movements. Scott Derrickson, director of Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” movie, said on Twitter that he lost his home to the wildfire.
Western Town Burns
The National Park Service said that Western Town, a faux village at Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains north of Malibu used for movies and TV shows from “The Cisco Kid” to “Westworld,” had burned.
As celebrities and other residents fled, gasoline proved to be the thing they needed most. Mark Gondola, a manager at an ARCO gas station on the Pacific Coast Highway, pulled an all-nighter to help some of the evacuees fleeing the blaze. As traffic backed up along the few evacuation routes from the hilly, coastal community, many ran out of gas and came to buy more for their stalled cars.
“This is what happens when people aren’t prepared,” Gondola said as he helped customers fill red gas cans. “It’s been really crazy.”
Farther up the beach, Heather Jones, a physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, packed her dog into her Mini. About an hour after receiving the order to evacuate, she was dressed in jeans, flip flops and a tank top, ready to evacuate the property for the first time in the 10 years she has lived there, she said.
“I guess we are leaving,” Jones said. “It was pretty unclear whether this part of Malibu had to leave. My mom keeps texting asking if I’m OK, so I figured it’s better just to get out of here so she doesn’t have to worry.”
Some families traveled in a convoy to evacuate. Erica Phillipson, from Saddle Peak near Topanga Canyon, drove behind her husband, whose car was filled with suitcases and a bodyboard. With Phillipson were her two young children in child seats in the back row and the family dog.
The mayor of Thousand Oaks, California, said some of the people affected by Wednesday’s mass shooting at a country-and-western bar in the town north of Malibu have been asked to leave their homes. About 75 percent of the city is evacuated, Mayor Andy Fox said. No lives have been lost in the Southern California fires, he said. “Homes can be rebuilt, property can be reacquired,” Fox said.
The California Highway Patrol said it had closed traffic northbound on Pacific Coast Highway, allowing four lanes of vehicles to head south away from the conflagration. In Ventura County, north of Malibu, some firefighters were pulling people from burning homes, officials said. Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said his department had hoped to hold the fire to the north of the 101 freeway, but it jumped the highway in several locations because of high winds. He said he expected it to be windy Sunday as well.
At 35,000 acres, the Woolsey Fire is more than twice the size of Manhattan, which is about 15,000 acres. The fire has more than doubled in size from this morning. when officials said it was 14,000 acres. Hundreds of miles north of Malibu, in Northern Caifornia, a massive blaze burning near the town of Chico has been blamed for at least nine deaths.