November 19, 2018
Woolsey Fire and Topanga Canyon
By: Elena Roche
This blog post is in response to many concerned past and future guests of Topanga Canyon Inn. Topanga Canyon was not directly affected by Woolsey Fire, but was affected by the evacuations and road closures. We, your hosts, chose to stay put and take care of the property and to deter any mischief that may ensue. We are sorry that some of you had to cut your visits short.
Woolsey Fire started on the evening of November 8th, 2018 in the less populated, mountainous area on the Western edge of the San Fernando Valley and Southern edge of Simi Valley, called Woolsey Canyon. From the beginning anyone with prior experience of fires in Los Angeles could tell that this was going to be bad because the strong and dry North-East Santa Ana winds were just beginning to pick up strength and weren’t going to stop for a few days. Although the starting point of this fire didn’t have much fuel, just dry grasses among boulders and rock formations, the strong wind drove this fire toward the wilderness full of native chaparral topping years of dead undergrowth. The Bell Canyon neighbourhood was the first to be directly threatened and affected by this fire. Downwind from there lay the towns of Agoura Hills, Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks. Farther downwind lay the Santa Monica Mountains and the coastal city of Malibu. Calabasas and Newbury Park fell into the fringe edges of the fire. Over the next two days the devastating destruction unfolded.
Topanga Canyon was ordered to evacuate even though it was not in the direct path of the fire but rather in a zone of potential, worst case scenario, of where this fire could eventually spread. Topanga Canyon Blvd. from Pacific Coast Highway to Mulholland Drive was closed to the public on the evening of November 9th to give the firefighters and authorities full, unobstructed access to all points in the Santa Monica Mountains. In addition, in the early AM hours of November 9th most residences in the mountains lost their electric, phone, TV and internet services making it difficult for the residents to communicate and run their businesses.
On November 10th the Santa Ana wind had stopped and a light, cool and moist ocean breeze, blowing in the opposite direction, began to scatter the smoke over Los Angeles county. While the air quality was very poor, nature was giving our firefighters a chance to get a handle on the fire and they did. Although Santa Ana winds returned on November 11th, the worst of the fire was over. The same winds that strengthened the fire just a day ago were now driving the smoke away from the Pacific Coast. In the days that followed the firefighters put out flare ups on the fringe edges of the fire zone. The air quality began to improve in most of Los Angeles. The authorities kept Topanga Canyon closed so to keep the vital points in the mountains accessible at any time. By November 14th they began to lift some of the evacuation orders and on the morning of November 16th Topanga Canyon was open thus life was beginning to get back to normal.
The air quality improved relatively fast and as of writing this blog post the air is as good as it gets this time of year. But if you are concerned, check this website for up to date air quality during your visit Wunderground.com We may be getting some much-needed rain on November 21st, lessening our chances of another fire and washing away the dust from the winds.
Although coastal Malibu and several parks in the Santa Monica Mountains were severely damaged most of our attractions are fine and ready to be enjoyed. Here is a list of places untouched by the fire:
Topanga Canyon Inn Bed and Breakfast
All hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails in Topanga and Topanga State Park
L A Horseback Riding
Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Topanga Creek Outpost Mountain Bikes
The 1909, wedding and event venue
Topanga State Beach, Malibu Beach and all beaches in Santa Monica
Beach Bike Path
Rosenthal Wine tasting room
Getty Villa is safe and opens after Thanksgiving
Getty Center is open as usual
Topanga Canyon restaurants are open on regular hours
Malibu Restaurants like Duke’s Malibu, Moonshadows and Nobu
Coastal restaurants East and South of Topanga Canyon are all open
All attractions, museums and shopping centers within the city of Los Angeles
Although it was a very devastating fire for those directly affected and our hearts are breaking for the victims, the rest of our area is back and functioning as usual.