MALIBU (CNS) - Malibu residents continued to return home today, days after the Woolsey Fire was fully contained, but many were still evacuated because utility crews were working to repair and replace burned and downed power poles.
The road closure at Mulholland Highway and Calamigos was moved to Mulholland Highway at the Encinal Canyon “Split” to allow for increased access to residents. Mulholland Highway East was closed between Pacific Coast Highway and Kanan Dume Road, and Highway 23 North is closed between PCH and Country Ranch Road.
Most of the people who remained evacuated were from scattered areas of Malibu and surrounding unincorporated areas, Los Angeles County Fire spokesman Pono Barnes said.
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” Barnes told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “There was quite a bit of infrastructure damaged during the burn.” As many as 2,000 power poles have been replaced, Barnes said.
As areas are repopulated, Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials remind people to stay vigilant of areas impacted by the fires as firefighters, road crews and others work on completing their assignments.
Intermittent power outages should be expected as workers restore power in affected areas.
With the nearly 97,000-acre blaze fully surrounded by containment lines of cleared vegetation, the number of firefighters assigned to patrol the zone in search of hot spots has been reduced to about 215.
Since erupting Nov. 8 in Ventura County and quickly spreading into Los Angeles County, the fire charred 96,949 acres, destroyed 1,643 structures in both counties and damaged 364 others, with damage assessments completed, Barnes said.
The death toll stands at three civilians, and three firefighters were injured, he said.
“The whole landscape in the area has changed,” Barnes said. He urged residents returning to their homes to immediately begin evaluating and mitigating the danger of flooding and debris flows from future rain storms.
Natural gas service has been restored in areas deemed safe, including the Peter Strauss Ranch community, the Oak Forest Mobile Home Park, the Seminole Mobile Home Park, and the vicinity of Morning View Drive and Bonsall Drive in Malibu, according to the Southern California Gas Company.
Residents were urged not to try to restore their own gas service but to contact SoCal Gas or certified contractors to do it. They also were cautioned to watch out for workers restoring services.
Malibu Creek State Park, Solstice Canyon, Upper Solstice Canyon, and Castro Crest will remain closed to all pedestrian and vehicle traffic indefinitely.
“Many known and unknown hazards exist following an intense fire,” Deputy Armando Viera Jr. of the Sheriff's Information Bureau said. “This includes fire weakened or dead trees that can fall without warning, burned out stumps creating holes under trails, damage to parking areas and roads, and damaged or destroyed structures.” .
Disaster Assistance Centers in Malibu and Agoura Hills had their mission extended to help residents affected by the blaze. The centers 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.
The centers will be open through Dec. 8, during the following hours:
-- Monday-Thursday: 1-8 p.m.
-- Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
-- Closed on Sundays
At the centers, fire victims can get help replacing lost records, filing insurance claims, applying for FEMA assistance and getting information on property cleanup, repair and rebuilding.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District updated its tentative schedule of school openings on its website. Webster Elementary is scheduled to reopen Wednesday, followed by Point Dume Marine Science on Dec. 3, Juan Cabrillo Elementary between Dec. 3 and Dec. 5 and Malibu High School between Dec. 4 and Dec. 10.
Additional fire information for Los Angeles County can be found at www.lacounty.gov/woolseyfire. Malibu also has a website with updated fire information at www.malibucity.org/woolsey.ncop.