The Fire Next Time: Much Work is to Be Done to Ensure Our Future Safety

Dear Fellow Topangans,

The Topanga Town Council expresses our gratitude to you, and to all the fire fighters, police, and other first responders who reminded us, yet again, what immense courage, skill and tenacity it takes to fight and survive a wildfire.  ,While we are so very fortunate to live in this precious and resilient community, our hearts go out to our sisters and brothers in Malibu, West Hills, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, and beyond who bore the brunt of the Woolsey Fire. At times like these, we are all one community.


While Topanga dodged a bullet during the Woolsey Fire, it served as a stark reminder that we live in a vulnerable landscape, and collectively we must all be vigilant and learn multiple ways to communicate during a disaster. During this most recent fire, notification was a challenge since power was out and then gradually restored throughout the canyon.This was not a Southern California Edison Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), but rather an outage caused by wind damaging SCE equipment.This will be addressed as all the officials, agencies, departments, and SCE conduct their post fire reviews. 

We would like to recognize the many volunteers who, through Topanga’s emergency organizations (TCEP, Topanga Town Council, Arson Watch, and others), devoted hundreds of hours to keeping residents and businesses informed during the fire, posting updates as they received them from the Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department, CHP, and the Third District Supervisor’s Office, who dispatched information via emails, social media posts, text alerts, and various websites, including the dedicated Woolsey Fire website:

It is important for Topangans to have many communication resources. To find reliable resources for alerts and updated notices, refer to the Topanga Disaster Survival Guide, pages 6-9 and 22-25.

For long-term planning and when no power is available for cell phones, TV, and internet, you should consider acquiring an alternate power source for your home in order to have access to important emergency information. An immediate power source for your cell phone and laptop is available in your car’s USB port or cigarette lighter. In the meantime, TCEP is working on solutions for communication during power outages. TCEP and Town Council will post information once testing has been completed on certain power and charging options.


In the coming days, weeks, and months, the Fire Department, law enforcement, Los Angeles County’s Office of Emergency Management, the Third District Supervisor’s Office, and state government officials will be analyzing the information gathered from the Woolsey Fire, and will share the results of their study with the community. Currently, the county and state are actively working to assess the fire and deal with the needs of those who were displaced. The Town Council will keep the community informed as future community meetings are planned, and will push-out information as it becomes available.


Residents who have ideas, experiences, questions, and concerns they would like to share, are encouraged to take a short survey developed by TCEP and the Town Council to help the county and local organizations better understand the challenges we face. The information obtained from the survey will be discussed at the next Topanga Emergency Management Task Force (TEMTF)* meeting that will take place within the next few months. TEMTF is also in conversation with Southern California Edison and cellular companies to address power outage issues during emergencies.

The information collected from the survey will be aggregated and shared with authorities in a broad and anonymous manner. Your contact information will not be shared. Take the survey


The 2019 Topanga Emergency Preparedness Fair, “Topanga Unplugged,” will take place on Sunday, May 5, at the Topanga Community Center (more information to come). The fair will help you learn ways to protect your family and home from all disasters—fire, flood, and earthquakes—especially during a power outage.  During the time of the fair, we will invite Topanga businesses to a special workshop to learn how to better prepare for and respond to an emergency. Plan now to attend. It’s important for your own benefit, your employees, and for the community.  


We know that many folks and businesses are currently reflecting on what they should do “the next time” something like this happens. The recent fire highlights the need to be prepared in the event of an emergency. The Topanga Disaster Survival Guide, an emergency preparedness resource manual produced by the TEMTF and customized for Topangans, was distributed to all registered addresses in the canyon this past year. You should read this with your family, friends, and business associates as it contains helpful information on preparing for all types of emergencies. For an electronic version. Additional hard copies can be obtained at Fire Station 69, the Topanga Library, and the Third District County Supervisor’s West Valley/Mountain Communities Office located at: 26600 Agoura Rd. #100, Calabasas, CA 91302. 


Topanga is the largest wildland urban interface (WUI) in the country, and, like Paradise, CA, has been identified as one of the most difficult areas in California to defend in a wildfire. Despite the challenges we face as a severely fire-prone community, there is much we can do together to prevent and respond to wildfires. For decades, fire specialists, government representatives and agencies, emergency responders, and local volunteer emergency organizations have been diligently preparing for the certainty of disastrous wildfires in Topanga. It takes all of us working together as a team—as individuals, as a community, and as a county and state—to ensure our safety for the future. 

  To take a short survey about your recent evacuation experience, click here.


*The Topanga Emergency Management Task Force oversees the coordination and communication among governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the community to improve preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery. TEMTF members include representatives from: Los Angeles County Third District Supervisor’s Office, Office of Emergency Management, Animal Care and Control, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department, CHP, Department of Public Works, Red Cross, SCE, Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness (TCEP), the Topanga Town Council (TTC), Arson Watch, CERT, North Topanga Canyon Fire Safe Council (NTCFSC), Topanga Chamber of Commerce, Topanga Animal Rescue, Topanga Elementary School, Canyon Sages, and the Topanga Library. 


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