Woolsey Fire cancels days off for SCV first responders

Structure burns in Woolsey Fire in Malibu. photo for The Signal by Jeff Zimmerman.

The Woolsey Fire burning a swath of destruction on its way to the ocean has pressed every single Santa Clarita Valley firefighter and sheriff’s’ deputy into action.

Firefighters making up two complete shifts in the SCV were dispatched to join firefighting efforts underway battling the Woolsey Fire, leaving the third and only remaining shift of firefighters in the SCV to respond to emergencies here.

“When you have a big incident like this, we man as many pieces of equipment as we can,” Capt. Marshall Oldham of Fire Station 126 said Monday.

“We have a lot of strike teams on that fire,” he said, referring to the Woolsey fire. ”We have engines out there and two sets of crews working 24-7 around the clock.

“A third set of firefighters has to stay here to protect Santa Clarita,” he said.

No local firefighter has a day off as long as firefighting efforts are underway to stop the Woolsey Fire.

And, that goes for deputies of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station as well.

“All available personnel are called in and all days off are cancelled,” Lt. Doug Mohrhoff of the Santa Clarita Valley said Monday.

“When you have events of this size, you have a number of agencies involved such as CalFire and the  Los Angeles County Fire Department,” he said.

As of Monday morning, the Woolsey Fire was reported in a dozen communities from Chatsworth to Malibu, having burned 91,572 acres.

The fire, listed as 20 percent contained, has destroyed more than 370 structures and threatened 57,000 others since it began mid-afternoon Thursday.

Two civilian fatalities were reported and at least three firefighters treated for injuries.

Having battled the fire all weekend, and having reported a break in weather conditions, fire officials Monday announced they expected to have full containment of the Woolsey Fire by Thursday.

Calling it “extreme fire behavior,” they reported Monday: “Firefighting efforts have been focused, and will remain focused, on the protection of life and structures. Favorable overnight weather conditions contributed to minimal fire growth, which allowed crews to reinforce containment lines.

“Crews will continue to be challenged with steep terrain, limited access and extreme fire behavior. Moderate to strong Santa Ana winds will continue across the area throughout the day.”

Mandatory evacuations remained in place Monday for communities including Bell Canyon in Ventura County and Calabasas, Malibu, Hidden Hills, Topanga, Monte Nido, West Hills and Malibu Lake in Los Angeles County.

To complicate matters, flare-ups of smaller fires inside the same general fire zone diverted the attention Monday of some firefighters,

One such fire reported Monday morning — dubbed the Peak Fire — broke out in Chatsworth, burning at least 50 acres.

“Our guys are stepping up,” Capt. Oldham said.

“Right now no one is taking days off. And although we are spread so thin, we still have to provide services here,” he said.

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