Malibu evacuated as California Woolsey wildfire rages across beachside communities

Chris Riotta

The beachside community of Malibu and at least 75,000 homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties have been evacuated as multiple wildfires raged across California.

Two fires burning in the region increased in size and scope just before the weekend, as the fire in Woolsey was not contained on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, flames have claimed more than 8,000 acres of land and jumped over the south-side of the 101 freeway, effectively shutting down miles of roadway into the Calabasas area.

“It’s a mandatory evacuation. What that means is, you don’t have to leave, we want you to leave,” Ventura County Fire spokesman Rich Macklan told reporters on Friday. “But people know they can’t get back in once they do leave. We want people to leave early, when firefighters ask you to, because firefighting equipment needs to come in and do [its] work.”

He added: “If you leave early, it helps us tremendously.

Scott McLean, captain of California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told reporters on Friday, one of the fires had expanded to cover nearly 110 square miles, adding it had almost quadrupled in extent overnight.

Filmmaker Scott Derrickson was among those who lost their homes to the fire, tweeting out a message to his followers that he was safe, adding, “that’s the important thing.”

Schools were closed in the Las Virgines Unified School District in Calabasas throughout Friday, as Malibu Search and Rescue ordered residents of Las Virgenes Road, and those near the Ventura Freeway and Mulholland Highway, to leave the area.

Malibu has about 13,000 residents and lies along 21 miles of the coast, at the southern foot of the Santa Monica mountain range.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department tweeted the fire was heading to the ocean, punctuating the message with the declaration: “Imminent threat!”

Pepperdine University cancelled classes on Friday at its Malibu and Calabasas campuses, with the latter evacuated.

To the west, in Ventura County, Moorpark College closed due to the fire and Wednesday night’s mass shooting in nearby Thousand Oaks.

California Lutheran University had already cancelled Friday classes due to the shooting. Cal Lutheran said its Thousand Oaks campus is not under evacuation orders but residential students have been put on standby.

The Thousand Oaks-based Conejo Valley Unified School District also closed all schools.

The Los Angeles and Ventura County fire departments said multiple buildings have been destroyed or damaged, but exact numbers were not available early on Friday.

The flames are being driven by Southern California’s Santa Ana winds, which blow from the northeast towards the coast.

AP contributed to this report.