Lessons from the Woolsey Fire Report

The Thomas Fire (December 2017) burned 440 square miles in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The Thomas Fire was briefly the largest fire in California history, but was eclipsed by 2018’s Ranch Fire. The Woolsey Fire (November 2018) burned 151 square miles in the Los Angeles and Ventura counties and prompted the immediate evacuation of 295,000 people.

The final toll of the Woolsey Fire was 97,000 acres burned, 1600 structures destroyed, and losses in property exceeding $6 billion. Within the City of Malibu, 488 homes burned to the ground. The Woolsey Fire was the most damaging wildfire in Southern California history.

A new normal of devastating wildfires is forcing us to rethink our approach to disasters – and especially on displaced people.

With support from Resilient Cities Catalyst and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Climate Resolve investigated how Californians responded to the Woolsey Fire. We asked, “where did people flee? Which cities and neighborhoods absorbed them? Were there enough hotel rooms and cots in shelters? Or did people stay in the homes of friends or family members? How well did insurance play a role in providing for additional living expenses?”

There is a lot to learn from this disaster. Ultimately, we published our findings — and answers to these questions — in our January 2021 report “Lessons from the Woolsey Fire”.