Unfolding Hill & Woolsey Fires

The Hill Fire and Woosley Fires began in the mid afternoon on Thursday, November 8 amidst strong Santa Ana wind conditions.  I am with my Coastal and Marine Management Students down here in San Diego and so having something of a hard time trying to get the most recent, on-the-ground info available.  I’ll be heading home later today (Friday, November 9), but it is getting hard to update everyone on what is happening with the fires that are threatening both our CSU campus and my home and the homes of many of my students.  I will therefore publish what I know here, in this centralized place.  I will update this as I can and as info becomes available.

The Hill fire burns along Santa Rosa Road in between Thousand Oaks and Camarillo on Thursday, November 8, 2018. Photo: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times.

Where is the fire?

We will likely see a daybreak press conference around 7am or so from Ventura County Fire (they are managing the Hill Fire and Woolsey).  Right now the satellite data suggests that we are seeing more active burn with the Woolsey Fire compared to the Hill Fire, likely owing to the fact that vegetation in the footprint of the Hill Fire are over enriched in grasses and depauperate in shrubs thanks to the 2013 Camarillo Springs Fire.  These flashier fuels let the fire run and spread quickly.  There is more biomass to burn the Woolsey Fire footprint and possibly part of the reason why it seems to be a hotter/more uniform/consistent burn.

You can click through the image below to get to the feed from NASA’s MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) sensor data via their Fire Information for Resource Management System.

You can also click here to get to dropdown to download the most recent map files (kmls or shapefiles).

More than 75,000 people are under evacuation orders.  Evacuations are changing every few hours, but (as of 5:30 am) are essentially these locations:

Hill Fire:

  • CSUCI (campus closed on Thursday and remains closed today)
  • Camarillo Springs
  • Vallecito Trailer Park
  • Dos Vientos neighborhood
  • Point Mugu Naval Base (resource protection is in effect for Mugu Peak and the radar installation there)

Woolsey Fire:

  • All of Oak Park
  • Bell Canyon
  • much of Thousand Oaks north of Kanan Road and West of Lindero Road to Erbes Road
  • Westlake Village

While the 101 Freeway was closed for much of the night in both directions, by 4:30 am on Friday morning the north-bound lanes have opened up.  Southbound remains closed.

Screen grab of CalTrans Traffic feed as of 5:02am on November 9, 2018.

Santa Anas and Fire Progression

We had a Red Flag wind warning yesterday at the start of this fore event with gusts up to 35 MPH pushing flames quickly seaward from their origins in Santa Rosa Valley (for the Hill Fire) and Simi Valley (for the Woolsey Fire).  Today’s predictions are for even stronger winds starting to pick-up again very shortly in the wake of their typical overnight laying down.  Friday’s gusts may be as high as 50 MPH.  This will have the effect of pushing the Hill Fire to the ocean and pushing the Woolsey fire more deeply into eastern Thousand Oaks and the Westlake Village area and likely in Agoura and Calabasas regions.  Folks in the Santa Monicas need to leave there today.  It is very likely roads will become problematic as fire pushes in and fire crews need freer access to these areas.

Pirate Lab Fire Ecology Data

We don’t have any data to share with anyone at the moment.  Our drones are grounded due to Temporary Flight Restrictions to clear the air for fire fighting aircraft, but Ventura County Fire has aerial assets in the air for intelligence gathering as well as fire suppression.

N4OY (infrared capable plane) is over Thousand Oaks via @AI6YRHam

Our air pollution data and our wildlife monitoring will get back up and running as soon as my students and colleagues have a chance to get back on campus and to our equipment.  From a fire ecology standpoint, we have lots of good animal mortality, etc. data and will be able to help us well understand the impact of this fire in the near future.


Campus, our home, and our friends’ and students’ homes seem to be okay as of 6 am, but all are under serious threat.  The following images are from family, friends, and unattributed social media posts:

Data Feeds & Links

Ventura County Fire Twitter Feed (here)

Ben’s Excellent AI6YR Twitter Feed (here)

Oxnard Nation Weather Service Text Feed (here)


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