Malibu was looking over its shoulder Tuesday night.
On Monday, Oct. 28, a wildfire began during a Red Flag Warning in the area of the 405 Freeway and Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles, eventually burning 656 acres, destroying 12 homes and forcing evacuations of residents in areas of west LA including Pacific Palisades. That fire, called the Getty Fire, ignited just after 1:30 a.m. Monday and grew up to 618 acres by 3 p.m. that day. Despite forward progress slowing, the fire continued to have residents on edge going into extreme fire weather on Wednesday morning, Oct. 30.
Malibu schools, which were closed Monday due to the Red Flag Warning and possibility of Southern California Edison power shutoffs, were in session Tuesday—but on Tuesday evening, it was announced that schools would once again close for classes Wednesday.
With predicted wind gusts in the Santa Monica Mountains reaching up to 80 miles per hour on Wednesday and Thursday, according to National Weather Service (NWS) estimates, and with the nearby Getty Fire only 15 percent contained as of sunset Tuesday, residents of Malibu fielded text, email and phone alerts as the sun set on Oct. 29, warning to prepare for possible power outages or evacuations.
“A severe wind event is expected to impact Malibu starting tonight through Friday, Nov. 1, creating extremely hazardous fire conditions,” an Everbridge alert from City Manager Reva Feldman broadcast on Tuesday beginning just after 5 p.m. “All Malibu residents should be prepared for potential evacuations.”
Calm wind on Tuesday helped firefighters raise containment on Monday’s Getty Fire from five percent to 15 percent, with a focus on the westerly edge of the fire that had been threatening Topanga Monday morning, but the Getty Fire was not the only issue Malibu could face.
Malibu residents could be facing blackouts under Southern California Edison’s PSPS (Public Safety Power Shutoff) program, after the utility notified customers two circuits were being considered for PSPS beginning Wednesday.
Those areas under consideration for outages include the Galahad Circuit (approximately the western edge of Point Dume to Point Mugu and two to four miles inland) on Wednesday, Oct. 30, from 6 a.m. to midnight, and the Merlin Circuit (approx. Latigo Canyon Road to Malibu Lagoon, and about two to four miles inland) on Thursday, Oct. 31, from midnight to 3 a.m.
“A strong Santa Ana wind event is forecast to occur late Tuesday evening through Thursday with peak gusts to 80 m.p.h. possible in the Santa Monica and Los Angeles County mountains,” the NWS warning read. “This will be an extreme event, with damaging wind gusts expected, and a long duration of very low humidity. If there is a fire ignition, it would exhibit with very rapid fire growth and extreme fire behavior.”
Malibu avoided a possible catastrophe on Monday morning when another fire broke out in heavy brush, this one along the southbound Ventura (101) Freeway in Calabasas, close to Las Virgenes Road. That fire, which was first called in at about 9 a.m. Monday, was held at only 10 acres. Within 45 minutes, forward progress had been halted.
In case of power outages, residents are encouraged to access KBUU News, FM 99.1.