The Woolsey Fire started on November 8, 2018 and burned for 13 days before it was contained. This was an unprecedented, fast-moving brush fire, 14 miles wide, with a footprint of 150 square miles, driven by gusts of up to 70 mph—the most destructive fire L.A. County has ever seen. Three canyons were affected and 70,000 homes, businesses and other structures lay in the fire’s path. A quarter of a million people were evacuated.
Approximately 800 L.A. County firefighters were deployed to the fire, along with some 3,000 firefighters from dozens of agencies around the United States.
As the fire grew, the priority for first responders was life safety and evacuations. The Department was constantly assessing the fire, weather conditions, and topography to identify the most threatened areas where lives and critical structures were at risk so they could most effectively fight the fire. As a result of their strategic deployment of resources, there was minimal loss of life.
As the fire became contained, power lines, poles, fallen trees, rocks that had fallen onto roads, massive amounts of debris, and other hazards needed to be cleared or repaired before evacuees could safely return home.
As Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby has noted, we have entered in a new era of firefighting. Because of 7 years of drought which has created an environment of explosive brush, and a larger number of buildings in high-risk areas, firefighting is more difficult and much more hazardous to our firefighters.
Given these new dangers and new realities, it is also extremely important for residents to sign up for and heed emergency alerts and evacuation orders. Preserving human life is, and must remain, our foremost priority.
Los Angeles County is preparing for this “new normal." Within weeks of the start of the Woolsey Fire, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to conduct an assessment of current fire-fighting staff, equipment and facilities so we are ready for what the future will bring.