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Staff Report
11:03 am PDT October 24, 2019

Los Angeles County has released a draft of the Woolsey Fire Task Force’s report, and the public is to have an opportunity to delve into the details this Saturday, Oct. 26, during a public meeting at the Agoura Hills Performing Arts and Education Center at Agoura High School, 28545 West Driver Ave. The meeting begins at 10 a.m.

The full, 204-page report is available at www.lacounty.gov/recovery/report.

The report says area first responders faced complexities and were challenged amid “a perfect storm of factors,” and outlines their “numerous significant accomplishments,” including 250,000 evacuees, the opening of shelters for fire victims and animals, and more.

“Despite the numerous significant accomplishments in light of such a wildfire, the public understandably experienced frustration,” the report notes. “Residents’ prior experience and expectations regarding the agencies’ capability to successfully confront a fast-moving wildfire were abruptly reset by the many obstacles present. No single fire had ever occurred in the mountains or the Malibu area that did not receive massive quantities of fire engines in time, but the Woolsey Fire was different.”

The report states that “approximately 50 percent of requested resources were provided to the Woolsey Fire.” The LA County, LA City and Ventura County fire departments “could not have planned for a complete exhaustion of California’s limited firefighting resources brought on by a regional wildfire weather threat in conjunction with the Camp Fire, a mass casualty shooting in Ventura County, and the Ventura County Hill Fire, which began just before the Woolsey Fire started,” the report states.

The Woolsey Fire Task Force was directed to review the causes and origins of the fire, the deployment of firefighting resources, and the distribution and adequacy of firefighting resources (including water, evacuation notification and procedures, strategic communications during the fire, and community repopulation notification and procedures), and to outline steps to better ensure community safety in light of heightened fire risk.

The report brought forward 155 findings and 86 actionable recommendations across four themes: The Response, Communication, Evacuation/Repopulation, and Transition to Recovery.

LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn issued a statement Oct. 23, stating that the draft report shows that the Los Angeles County Fire Department needs more firefighters and firefighter/paramedics. 

“Woolsey proved that we can’t rely on mutual aid from other fire departments,” Hahn’s statement reads. “We face bigger and more destructive fires like Woolsey all the time and the department still fielded 1,000 other 9-1-1 calls each day during the fire. It has been 20 years since we invested in our fire department and it is about time we get them the resources they need.”

Members of the public are invited to comment both at the meeting and online between Saturday, Oct. 26-Nov. 8.

A second meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Agoura Hills Performing Arts and Education Center at Agoura High School.

Stay tuned for the Surfside's coverage of Saturday's meeting.