Oak Park resident among two who perished in fireFree Access



A home on Wembly Avenue and a vehicle on Tottenham Court, below, are part of the Oak Park damage. Over 150 homes have been lost to the Woolsey fire, which has ballooned to 70,000 acres. Much of the damage yesterday took place in Malibu, Bell Canyon, West Hills, Agoura and unincorporated L.A. County between the 101 Freeway and PCH. Photos by JOHN LOESING/Acorn Newspapers

With a hazy sun rising on the third day of the Woolsey fire, authorities confirm that two lives were lost to the blaze Friday.

As of Saturday morning, the wind-whipped fire had scorched more than 70,000 acres and destroyed up to 150 homes in L.A. and Ventura counties, though the exact number is unknown and expected to grow.

A source with knowledge of the incident said those who perished Nov. 9 were an Oak Park man and his mother, killed when the vehicle they were driving in was overcome by flames in Decker Canyon, a narrow, winding road that travels from Westlake Village to the ocean. Authorities have yet to release their names.

The man, his wife and their two sons had evacuated Oak Park the night before, Nov. 8, and stayed at the grandmother’s house off Mulholland Highway near Malibu, the source said. On Friday, the source said, the entire family left in multiple cars to drive back to Oak Park, unaware they were driving directly into a massive firestorm until it was too late. 

The wife and sons both survived, but suffered burns and smoke inhalation, the source said.

Sheriff’s officials would only say that two fatalities were reported in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway, the same address provided to the Acorn by the source the day before. Calls to the Lost Sheriff’s Station and the L.A. County coroner’s office have not been returned.

Winds slow, but expected to pick up again tonight

Chief Daryl Osby of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said during a Saturday morning press conference in Thousand Oaks that a lull in the weather is helping firefighters battle the blaze, but the break is only temporary.

Weather projections show the Santa Ana winds that have been driving the fire since it started Thursday afternoon are expected to pick back up Sunday and last through Tuesday.

“We have all available resources from my department and the surrounding agencies here. We’ve made requests to the state and federal governments but there’s other fires and competing challenges. We’re getting resources here today from Arizona and we have additional resources coming from surrounding states,” Osby said.

“Our objective today is to get some perimeter control. The focal points will be the east side of the fire along Bell Canyon and along the 101 Freeway and then perimeter control around Malibu Canyon and the south end of the fire,” the fire chief said from the unified command station at Conejo Creek Park in T.O.

Osby said 900 firefighters from his department are on the scene; in all, over 2,000 firefighters are battling the Woolsey fire and hundreds more are keeping tabs on the Hill fire, which is burning to the west of Newbury Park.

Mandatory evacuations are still in effect in Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Westlake Village, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Agoura Hills and Malibu, although some are expected to be lifted by the end of the day.

Some thieves have already tried to take advantage of the absence of homeowners. Two looters were arrested Friday, including one on Upper Ranch Road in the North Ranch section of Thousand Oaks.

Chief John Benedict of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said over 200 deputies are patrolling evacuated areas to protect property from looters.

Kyle Jorrey contributed to this story.