LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles Fire Department said their efforts to put out the Woolsey fire that ripped through L.A. and Ventura counties in November was complicated by requests from politicians, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

MALIBU, CA – NOVEMBER 09: Strong winds blow embers from burning houses during the Woolsey Fire on November 9, 2018 in Malibu, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

According to the Times, the LAFD’s after-action review on the Woolsey fire stated, “A significant number of requests by political figures to check on specific addresses of homes to ensure their protection distracted from department leadership to accomplish priority objectives.”

The fire started Nov. 8 and destroyed more than 1,600 structures in Westlake Village, Oak Park, and Malibu and killed at least four people, making it the most destructive fire in Los Angeles County’s modern history.

The Times reported that “Los Angeles Fire Assistant Chief Tim Ernst said Friday in an interview that he did not know which politicians were involved or exactly how those requests affected the firefighting efforts.”

Ernst did mention that “…living in the city of L.A. or the county of L.A., we have to understand we probably have some of the wealthiest communities in America, and with that comes a certain amount of political power.”

He went on to address that requests from politicians or high-profile residents should not become a “primary mission” and that these high-profile or wealthy residents making requests of firefighters are often normal during these situations.

The Woolsey fire burned almost 97,000 acres, making it the seventh most destructive fire in California modern history.

Comments (2)
  1. Russell Betts says:

    I’m not buying it. Chief Ernst could have simply said no. Any decision to respond to questions that resulted in difficulties was his failure, not that of those who asked about particular homes. Those questions are normal in a situation like that. The Chief should have had a communication system in place that would deal with such an inevitability of these types of questions or simply told people he could not answer their questions.