City of Malibu under mandatory evacuation as wildfire rages (Update: 5 dead from northern California fire)

The city of Malibu along the California coast is under mandatory evacuation this morning after a wildfire known as the Woolsey Fire jumped across the 101 freeway and began burning south. From the Associated Press:

The fire broke out Thursday northwest of Los Angeles and roared southward, jumping the U.S. 101 freeway early Friday and sweeping into the Santa Monica Mountains.

Malibu has about 13,000 residents and lies along 21 miles (34 kilometers) of coast at the southern foot of the mountain range.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department tweets that the fire is headed to the ocean, punctuating the message with the declaration: “Imminent threat!”

This image gives a sense of where the fire is as you look south toward the ocean:

Here’s what it looked like in Malibu this morning:

A more recent view caught on video:

The mandatory evacuation hit a snag today when power was lost along PCH, leaving it one long string of cars with no traffic lights:

The fire was driven by heavy winds last night. I live about an hour south of this and the winds were some of the strongest I’ve seen in 10 years. The fire got started north of the 101 freeway in Simi Valley where it burned a number of homes last night.

A separate fire, the Camp Fire, is burning in northern Califonia and has already destroyed several thousand structures. From the AP:

A wildfire that moved so fast that firefighters couldn’t hope to stop it quadrupled in size Friday after destroying several thousand buildings and leveling much of a Northern California town of nearly 30,000 people, authorities said.

Only a day after it began, the fire near the town of Paradise had grown to nearly 110 square miles (285 square kilometers).

“There was really no firefight involved,” said Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, explaining that crews gave up on attacking the flames and instead helped people evacuate. “These firefighters were in the rescue mode all day yesterday.”

There are also reports of fatalities but the exact number appears to be unknown. This video shot yesterday really does look hellish:

Here’s what it looked like trying to evacuate from this fire:

Here’s another escape video, driving through a burning neighborhood. The woman filming this is saying a prayer, clearly terrified:

And the aftermath this morning along one of the exit roads. People just abandoned their cars in the road as they tried to escape.

I’ll update this post if there are significant developments in the next few hours.

Update: Five deaths confirmed in the Camp Fire. This is horrible:

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