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As the Woolsey fire continued to burn, Bill Kerbox got a call Monday night from his friend. His 142-foot yacht, the Leight Star, was ready to be deployed. It boasts a helipad and plenty of space. The mission needed only one thing: volunteers and supplies to deliver to victims of the roughly 96,000-acre fire who had stayed behind.

Kerbox blasted out the call for help on social media. It didn’t take long for people, including those desperate to get back to their Malibu homes, to step (or paddle) forward.

Surfers showed up to meet the yacht at sea and bring the supplies to Malibu’s Paradise Cove.

“There’s been so much confusion,” Kerbox told the volunteers Tuesday as they began their journey. “We need to get out on social media that supplies are going to start be unloaded in a little over an hour.”

Standing behind a fully stocked wet bar, Kerbox contemplated what hashtag to use to notify people of their efforts. They agreed upon #malibuhope.

The yacht belongs to Howard Leight, a billionaire entrepreneur who owns the Malibu Rocky Oaks winery with his son. His boat is worth tens of millions of dollars. He spent Friday and Saturday fending off blazes at the winery and his other property in L.A. The fire destroyed much of his vineyard.

“All I could think about is that I didn’t want to lose my houses,” Leight said as he stood on the right side.

When he was done, he felt it was time to give back.

Kerbox estimated the boat was stocked with about 3,000 bottles of water, 100 gallons of fuel, shovels, snacks, dog food — and a bunch of beer.

Smaller boats were tied behind the yacht to help offload supplies. Among those who joined the brigade were Jerardo Bautista and his five-person landscaping crew. Since 1985, Bautista has been doing landscaping at some of Malibu’s most luxurious homes.

Bautista’s crew spent Friday going from home to home cutting back brush and putting out fires.

When the Leight Star neared the Paradise Cove coast, surfers and kayakers paddled toward the boat. Like a bucket brigade, they moved supplies from the yacht to their boards and kayaks, braving choppy waters, before going to shore.

Three small tenders were filled with garbage bags full of dry goods as a crew in a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department boat watched.

“If we’re not letting people in by land, we’re not letting them in by sea,” a deputy said.

At one point a woman boarded a kayak and made a mad dash for land. She was cut off by law enforcement authorities and forced back on the yacht.

But eventually all the supplies from the yacht made it to land. That provoked cheers and selfies as people celebrated on the yacht with beer and wine.

But Bautista was nowhere to be found. He had sneaked off the boat and was heading to help people with their homes.

Story By Benjamin Oreskes
Photos: Jay L. Clendenin
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As firefighters race to control the Woolsey Fire, mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect for Malibu to West Hills in the San Fernando Valley.

The Woolsey Fire is still burning in spots on both sides of the 101 freeway. It has torched hillsides and coastline across 83,275 acres of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and destroyed more than 170 buildings in the beaches, canyons, and Valley. Containment stands at 10 percent.

On Sunday, firefighters extinguished flare-ups and kept a hold on the fire’s perimeter, stopping it from spreading south into communities like Pacific Palisades, said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby. He noted that there were no new reports of homes burning down.

“Today was a better day,” he said.

But, Osby cautioned: “We’re not out of the woods tonight.”

Powerful Santa Ana winds are forecasted to kick up again later tonight, posing a major threat. Wind gusts can easily fan embers and ignite dry brush.

None of the mandatory evacuation orders issued for the Woolsey Fire since Friday have been lifted in LA County, and approximately 57,000 structures in Ventura and Los Angeles counties are still at risk.

The evacuation orders affect multiple communities, including Topanga, where many residents have opted to shelter in place, as well as the entire city of Malibu, which City Councilmember Lou La Monte has said was “hit very, very hard.”

Authorities continue to urge Topanga residents who have remained in their homes to “leave immediately.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is also warning residents in evacuation zones to resist the urge to return home. Even in areas where flames are no longer active, there are downed power lines and trees, smoldering embers that could reignite, limited to no cell service, and dangerous air quality.

“We ask people: Do not go back to those areas,” says Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department chief John Benedict. “Quite frankly, it’s still not safe.”

Since blowing south from Ventura County over the 101 freeway into Los Angeles early Friday morning, unleashing a barrage of flames on Malibu and neighboring communities, the Woolsey Fire has has destroyed 177 structures.

But assessment teams are still surveying the damage, and that number is expected to increase.

La Monte estimates the blaze has ruined “dozens and dozens of homes” in Malibu alone; it has wreaked havoc on Malibu West, Point Dume, Zuma Canyon, and Malibu Lake.

But the south side of Malibu, as well as Topanga and Pacific Palisades have not burned—and authorities are telling residents of those communities to be prepared to leave.

“We are trying to contain the fires north of those communities,” says Osby. But “if you see smoke coming your way, don’t wait for the evacuation [order] to leave.”

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This interactive map shows the all the evacuations, shelters, and areas the fire has hit.

Just after 5 a.m. Friday, the Thousand Oaks fire jumped the south side of the 101 Freeway at Chesebro Road near Calabasas. In response, California Highway Patrol shut down a four-mile stretch of the 101 Freeway from Las Virgenes Road to Kanan Road.

“Early this morning, as the fire transitioned through Agoura Hills, the fire jumped the 101 Freeway right around Liberty Canyon, mid-slope, caught wind, and became quickly established at where we were at today,” L.A. County Deputy Fire Chief David Richardson told reporters at a morning news conference.

The entire city of Malibu was under an unprecedented mandatory evacuation, in addition to areas south of the 101 Freeway, from the Ventura line to Malibu Canyon. The fire was burning south of Mulholland Highway and around 10:30 p.m. flames jumped Pacific Coast Highway, headed toward The Colony on Malibu Road.

Residents were advised to use PCH to evacuate, and to avoid using canyon roads. All four lanes of PCH were opened for southbound traffic at 12:45 p.m. Complicating matters were the traffic signals that were knocked out of service. Drivers were being advised to use the 405 Freeway up to the 118 Freeway in order to get around the backup.

Despite evacuations in Malibu and flames threatening near campus, Pepperdine University called for students and staff to shelter in place.

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