Malibu residents bracing for more potential damage as heavy rainstorm rolls in

Mudslides in scarred Thomas Fire area destroyed dozens of structures last year

A fire-damaged Pacific Coast sign (Credit: Fredric J. Brown via Getty Images)
A fire-damaged Pacific Coast sign (Credit: Fredric J. Brown via Getty Images)

Residents in Malibu and Ventura County are bracing for more damage to their neighborhoods as the first of three heavy storms forecasted for Southern California makes its way through the area on Friday.

Evacuations are possible from areas that were badly scarred by the Woolsey fire, which torched more than 96,000 acres in November, the Los Angeles Times reported. Authorities say there is potential for debris and flooding in the area.

The deadly fire is believed to have caused up to $5 billion in real estate damage, the bulk of that being residential property damage. It destroyed more than 1,640 structures, damaging hundreds of others.

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A heavy downpour has the potential to propel that figure even higher. In Santa Barbara, a series of deadly mudslides triggered by the Thomas Fire destroyed dozens of structures and ravaged the wealthy oceanside community. Celebrities suffered home losses and damage as well, including Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Ellen DeGeneres, who recently bought another mansion in the area.

The recent natural disasters in L.A. County have shown to have a direct impact on the real estate market. In the weeks that followed the Woolsey fire devastation in Malibu, the city’s rental market skyrocketed as hundreds of displaced residents looked for a new place to live, The Real Deal previously reported.

As of midday Friday, the storm sailing through Southern California had prompted street closures — including the Pacific Coast Highway — and forced a passenger plane taking off from Los Angeles International Airport to make an emergency landing after it was struck by lightning.

Officials in Riverside County already mandated, and lifted, an evacuation order for residents affected by the Holy fire. The storm, which will roll in Friday night, is expected to bring in about 1 to 3 inches of rain through Saturday. [LAT] — Natalie Hoberman