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Malibu Hiker Died Of Heatstroke After Wandering Into Backcountry Area Closed By Woolsey Fire

MALIBU (CBSLA) – A 64-year-old man who died of heatstroke Monday in the Santa Monica Mountains had wandered off a trail and into a backcountry area which had been closed after being scorched by the Woolsey Fire.

The National Park Service reported Tuesday that the man was with a group of hikers who had gotten separated and had to be rescued after getting stuck on several different cliff sides. They had run out of water and were suffering from heat exhaustion.

Malibu Hiker Died Of Heatstroke After Wandering Into Backcountry Area Closed By Woolsey Fire
A Los Angeles County Fire Department chopper responds to the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu to rescue several hikers who got stranded, one of whom later died of heatstroke. Sept. 2, 2019. (CBS2)

Just after 2 p.m. Monday, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies, the L.A. County Fire Department and the Malibu Search & Rescue Team were called to Kanan Backbone Trailhead, in the area of Kanan Dume and Newton Canyon roads.

A group of about 10 hikers had split off and gotten separated in the hills, according to Melanie Flores with the L.A. County Fire Department.

Rescuers found the victim, but he died at 3:40 p.m. after being airlifted out by chopper, the National Park Service reported. His name was not released.

Several other members of the group were rescued after getting trapped on four different cliff sides off Zuma Edison Road, near Newton Canyon. The hikers had somehow gotten themselves onto an eroding and treacherous road which had been abandoned and closed since the Woolsey Fire broke out last year, NPS reports.

Last month, a 72-year-old woman died of heatstroke while hiking in the Circle X area of Malibu.

The Woolsey Fire burned a staggering 88 percent of National Park Service land in the Santa Monica Mountains. While some trails are open, several portions of the burn area have remained closed to the public in order to protect hikers and recover vegetation, NPS says.

Here is a map of the closure area.

On Nov. 8, 2018, the 97,000-acre Woolsey Fire broke out south of Simi Valley. It then jumped the south side of the 101 Freeway near Calabasas and spread into Malibu. The fire destroyed more than 1,500 structures and was responsible for three deaths. It was not fully contained until Nov. 21.

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