Today the LA County Board of Supervisors approved the initiation of a comprehensive review of the Woolsey Fire response and recovery. The motion asks for a specific assessment of the cause and origin of the fire, the deployment of firefighting resources as the fire progressed, the distribution and adequacy of firefighting resources, evacuation notification and procedures, strategic communications during the fire and its aftermath, and community repopulation notification and procedures.
LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, author of the motion, said, “In the last few days, I’ve met with a great many residents who were affected by the fire. It’s clear that a comprehensive review of the County’s response and recovery procedures will be valuable to ensure that we are increasingly better prepared for the heightened fire risk we now face, as well as to answer questions raised by my constituents.”
Additionally, as a result of requests from Supervisor Kuehl’s office and other agencies, two imminent deadlines relevant to Woolsey Fire victims have been extended. Eligibility for Federal Disaster Unemployment Insurance has been extended until March, and the filing deadline for a signed Right of Entry form required for no-cost debris removal has been extended to January 28.
In a related action, the Supervisors temporarily prohibited the use of leaf blowers within the impacted burn area during the Clean Up phase of the Recovery Effort. “We are adopting this temporary measure in response to issues raised by residents at our Recovery Forums who told us that not all residents were complying with the County Public Health recommendation against the use of leaf blowers when cleaning up fire ash,” said Supervisor Kuehl. “If blown into the air, fire ash can cause serious respiratory problems.”
The Woolsey Fire, an unprecedented, fast-moving brush fire that was 14 miles wide, with a footprint of 150 square miles, and driven by gusts of up to 70 mph, was the most destructive fire L.A. County has ever seen. It moved from the 101 Freeway to the Pacific Ocean in just five hours. Seventy thousand homes, businesses, and other structures lay in the fire’s path, and a quarter of a million people were evacuated.