MALIBU (CNS) - With rain forecast for tonight and into Thursday, officials in Los Angeles and Ventura counties were in an emergency response mode today, preparing for potential debris, mud and rock slides, especially in the Malibu area along Highway 1 and the canyon roads.
The greatest chance for significant rainfall will occur late Wednesday, with only a 20 percent chance of measurable rain forecast for daytime hours, according to the National Weather Service.
Sandbags and sand were being made available to all residents at Los Angeles County and Ventura County fire stations.
The current weather conditions of reduced winds and moderate humidity have helped firefighters increase containment of the Woolsey Fire to 98 percent. Since erupting Nov. 8 in Ventura County and quickly spreading into Los Angeles County, the fire has charred 96,949 acres, destroyed 1,643 structures in both counties and damaged 364 others. Full containment of the blaze was projected by Thursday.
About 325 firefighters remained in the battle, patrolling the burned area in search of hot spots to put out, fire officials said.
The death toll stands at three civilians, and three firefighters have been injured.
Officials have gradually allowed residents to go home as utilities are restored and areas deemed safe. Much of Malibu, however, was without power until 8 p.m. Monday -- a planned, daylong outage to allow utility crews to replace destroyed and damaged power poles and string new electrical lines. The outage also affected Pepperdine University.
Residents of the Broad Beach area of the Malibu Colony Cove neighborhood returned Sunday in an area bounded by the ocean on the south, Malibu city limit on the north, Guernsey Avenue on the east and the Ventura County line on the west.
Evacuation orders were also lifted in the Malibu Colony Cove neighborhood from the ocean on the south, the Malibu City Limit on the north, Puerco Canyon Road on the east and Paradise Cove Road on the west; and for the Las Virgines Road/Malibu Canyon Road areas from the Malibu City limit on the south to Mulholland Highway on the north, with Mulholland Highway still closed westbound from Malibu Canyon Road.
Latigo Canyon, Corral Canyon, Ramirez Canyon and Puerco Canyon roads remained closed north of PCH. Evacuation orders were lifted in the Topanga area from Pacific Coast Highway to Mulholland Drive on Friday.
Evacuation orders also were lifted in Malibu Lakes, and the following areas:
-- Mulholland Highway on the north, Bulldog Mountain Way on the south, Lake Shore Drive on the east and Shadow Creek Drive on the west. Mulholland Highway will remain closed eastbound at Cornell Road and westbound at Troutdale Road due to bridge damage.
-- Pacific Ocean on the south, Malibu City limit on the north, Paradise Cove on the east and Guernsey Avenue on the west. Latigo Canyon and Corral Canyon roads will be open from Pacific Coast Highway to the Malibu City limit but areas north of those locations will remain closed.
Evacuation orders also were cancelled for the Seminole Springs neighborhood between Kanan Road on the north, Cadenhorn Drive on the south, Trousdale Drive on the east and Seminole Drive on the west. Westbound Mulholland Highway west of Seminole Drive and southbound Kanan Road south of Triunfo Canyon Road will stay closed.
Disaster Assistance Centers were opened to help residents affected by the blaze. They will be closed Thanksgiving but reopen Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They are located at the former Malibu Courthouse at 23525 Civic Center Way, and at the Conrad L. Hilton Foundation, 30440 Agoura Road, in Agoura Hills.
Residents with proper photo ID can pickup their mail at the USPS Facility at 7101 S. Central Ave. in downtown Los Angeles between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. through Friday.
Malibu schools were expected to remain closed at least through the Thanksgiving weekend. Officials of the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District said specialists will begin cleaning the schools so they are ready to reopen after the holiday.
Residents were urged not to try to restore their gas service but to contact SoCal Gas to do it. They also were cautioned to watch out for workers restoring services.
Photo: Getty Images