Deadly California Wildfires Forcing Hotel Evacuations
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2018 is proving to be yet another historical and tragic year for wildfires. Fueled by dry conditions and strong Santa Ana winds, deadly and relentless wildfires across California are reducing entire towns to ash. As of Sunday, 25 people have perished in the fires, many of whom were trying to evacuate when they were overcome by the blaze.
While these fires pose a major threat and have a much greater impact on the residents of these cities, travelers are also starting to be affected by the fires. In Northern California, fires are disrupting operations at various Bay Area airports including San Francisco International Airport, (SFO) leading airlines to issue travel waivers. In Southern California, there are currently two massive wildfires burning: the Woolsey and Hill fires. Both fires are reported to have been ignited Thursday. The larger of the two fires, the Woolsey Fire has burned upwards of 84,000 acres, while the Hill Fires has burned 4,500 acres. The Woolsey Fire has forced mandatory evacuations in cities like Malibu, Agoura Hills and Calabasas.
Now, as the fires throughout Southern California continue to grow, numerous hotels have closed their doors either voluntarily or due to mandatory evacuation orders as the danger hones in on larger communities.
The San Fernando Business Journal is reporting that multiple chain hotels have been evacuated, including both The Four Season in Westlake Village and Homewood Suites in Agoura Hills. The general manager of the Homewood Suites told the Journal that the hotel was fully booked as a result of residents fleeing their homes. Now, those displaced are having to find another place to stay. Other hotels that appear to be closed as a result of the fires include the Sheraton Agoura Hills and the Hyatt Regency Westlake.
Hotels throughout the immediate area that aren’t being forced to evacuate are nearing capacity. According to an employee at the Hilton Universal City, south of the Woolsey Fire, the number of evacuees and firefighters has grown, straining nearby hotels.
Airbnbs across the area were also taken off the site due to evacuation orders. At the same time, the company has launched a program to shelter evacuees. A dedicated website set up by Airbnb allows hosts to offer up their homes for free to evacuees and volunteers in need of shelter. According to the site, more than 700 hosts have already opened up their properties to those affected by the fires.
It is important to understand just how critical and dangerous this situation is. While some hotels in the area will continue to accept reservations, we recommend guests staying near the wildfires call their hotel to confirm, even if the reservation appears to be unaffected.
Feature image via JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images.
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