PACIFIC PALISADES (CBSLA) — A “perfect storm” of factors fueled one of the most destructive wildfires in California’s history and “overwhelmed” agencies, a new action report concludes.
The Woolsey Fire raced through Ventura and L.A. counties last November, scorching 96,949 acres, destroying 1,643 structures and killing three people.
A draft After Action Review on the Woolsey Fire Incident from L.A. County released to CBS2/KCAL9 Wednesday includes critiques, successful actions and recommendations to improve response. Among the concerns raised: fire engines failing to show up to burning houses, evacuations called so late homes were burning around residents trying to flee and engines unable to supply aide to local agencies due to other fires simultaneously burning across the state.
“Even some of the largest, most experienced agencies in the United States were, at times, overwhelmed in the first hours by this incident’s speed and weight of impact,” the report reads in part.
In it, authors at Citygate call for “more specific evacuation plans that can adapt to major road closures and fast-pace disaster,” as well as better preparation and communication.
They also include an ominous warning for residents: “The public has a perception that public agencies can always protect them,” it continues. “As an incident the size of the Woolsey Fire shows, this is not always possible.”
According to the report, the Woolsey Fire incurred approximately $52 million in fire suppression costs alone. Insured losses, according to authors at Citygate, are expected to total $3-5 billion.
The After Action Review is scheduled for release Saturday at a public hearing.