SIMI VALLEY (CBSLA) — A brush fire spanning two counties doubled Saturday to 83, 275 acres, continuing to make a destructive march toward the Pacific Ocean, destroying at least 177 homes and forcing the evacuation of more than 265,000 people.
Powered by Santa Ana winds and dry air, the Woolsey Fire – which erupted Thursday afternoon in Ventura County before it raced into Los Angeles County – chewed its way through brush and into neighborhoods of Westlake Village, Malibu, and Oak Park.
The fire remained at five percent containment as of Saturday night. At least 2,000 firefighters had been dispatched to battle the blaze.
The L.A. County Fire Dept. Friday confirmed reports of a critical burn patient in the 33000 block of Mulholland in Malibu. The person's condition was not immediately clear Saturday afternoon.
The L.A. County Coroner confirmed shortly before 10 p.m. two bodies had been found in the burn area of the Woolsey Fire. It is not yet clear if the deaths were a result of the fire, though reports indicated that the bodies had been burned.
Emergency officials were urging residents to adhere to evacuation orders to avoid injury.
At least 75,000 homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties were under evacuation orders due to the Woolsey Fire.
Just after 5 a.m. Friday, the blaze jumped the south side of the 101 Freeway at Chesebro Road near Calabasas. In response, California Highway Patrol shut down a four-mile stretch of the 101 Freeway from Las Virgenes Road to Kanan Road.
"Early this morning, as the fire transitioned through Agoura Hills, the fire jumped the 101 Freeway right around Liberty Canyon, mid-slope, caught wind, and became quickly established at where we were at today," L.A. County Deputy Fire Chief David Richardson told reporters at a morning news conference.
The entire city of Malibu was under an unprecedented mandatory evacuation, in addition to areas south of the 101 Freeway, from the Ventura line to Malibu Canyon.
Despite evacuations in Malibu and flames threatening near campus, Pepperdine University called for students and staff to shelter in place.
Evacuations were also issued north of the 101 Freeway from Valley Vista to Reyes Adobe in the areas of Agoura Hills, Calabasas and Westlake Village, as well as in West Hills.
"We have over 300 Los Angeles County firefighters here, and as mentioned collectively, that's going to grow, as we continue to battle this fire, as it is headed to the Pacific Ocean," Richardson said.
The Woolsey Fire broke out about 2:25 p.m. Thursday, pushed by strong Santa Ana winds which prevented fire commanders from ordering aerial assaults in the early morning hours. Finally, some flights began at 5:30 a.m. as the wind died down but within 30 minutes, the wind was picking up again as dawn neared and was expected to be strong until 10 Friday evening.
Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation Friday for L.A. and Ventura counties.
Officials said there were two separate incidents of looting amid the fire that led to arrest, including one that led to a police pursuit.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Office said a vehicle was "roaming evacuated neighborhoods" before leading authorities on a chase.
Authorities said in a press conference Saturday morning that looters would be arrested.
Flames have been driven by 50 to 60 mph winds as a red flag warning was expected to remain in place until Tuesday.
"It's been a roller coaster," one Oak Park resident told CBS2, explaining he decided to stay behind and watch over his neighbors' homes in the area of Kellwood Ct. and Churchwood Dr. and had the utmost faith in firefighters.
"Hopefully they're able to get it under control and save this neighborhood," he said.
Another homeowner, speaking to CBS2, said he feared his home would be among those lost in the blaze.
"It was coming like a freight train," he said, praising firefighters. "There's not a lot of buffer here but these guys are just awesome."
Thousand Oaks was also the scene of a mass shooting late Wednesday at a nightclub where 11 civilians and a sheriff's sergeant were killed. The suspected gunman, a Marine Corps veteran, killed himself.
Those looking for information on family or friends can call the Ventura County Joint Information Hotline at 805-465-6650.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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