People say that there aren’t season in Los Angeles, but we can all agree late autumn means one thing for Angelinos: fire. This time of year forces us to think about what we can do to prepare in case a raging wildfire breaks out in our neighborhood. But a new report says that L.A. County officials themselves were not prepared for the Woolsey fire last year.
The report was the result of a motion by Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose district makes up much of the area ravaged by the fire. It says that officials were not prepared to fight the massive fire that raced across the Santa Monica Mountains, or for the wave of evacuations that resulted.
Fire departments often rely on each other to battle large blazes. When a fire breaks out, they reach out to those mutual aide partners for help. The Woolsey erupted after the Camp Fire in Northern California had pulled a firefighting resources away for the LA area, sending emergency responders scrambling.
“By the time it spread into L.A. County, a lot of our mutual aid partners were already allocated in different fires. We threw everything in and L.A. City came with us. But it was insufficient,” Kuehl says. “We could not get ahead of it with our resources because we couldn't get through the firestorm.”
Woolsey ultimately torched over 150 square miles and destroyed sixteen hundred structures. In an attempt to prevent another widespread burn, the report lists 86 action items for the county. Kuehl says improving communications is her top priority.
“I’m going to bring a motion to adopt them and we’ll work on them as quickly as we can in every department that’s affected,” she told KCRW.