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Structure losses in Southern California fire rise to 1,500

FILE - This Nov. 10, 2018 file photo shows a table and chairs outside one of at least 20 homes destroyed by the Woolsey fire on Wandermere Drive in the Point Dume area of Malibu, Calif. The number of structures destroyed by a huge Southern California wildfire has risen to 1,500. Another 341 structures were damaged as of a Monday, Nov. 20, 2018 count. As firefighters mop up, repair and restoration of utilities is continuing along with repopulation of areas evacuated when winds spread the fire earlier this month. Forecasters predict rain in the area by midweek. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

MALIBU, Calif. — The tally of structures destroyed by the huge wildfire that swept through Southern California communities increased to 1,500 on Monday, fire officials said.

With 95 per cent of the burn assessment completed, the count also showed 341 structures damaged.

The fire erupted Nov. 8 and powerful Santa Ana winds pushed it through suburbs and wilderness parkland in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, forcing thousands of people to flee.

Three people were found dead in the aftermath. They remained unidentified.

The final major flare-ups occurred last week on the western end of the fire in the Santa Monica Mountains. Since then, firefighters have been mopping up and patrolling the 151-square-mile (391-square-kilometre) burn area.

Containment lines were complete around 94 per cent of the fire zone and full containment was expected by Thanksgiving.

Restoration of power and other utilities continued along with repopulation of evacuated areas. The latest areas to be reopened included Broad Beach, a long stretch of multimillion-dollar homes on the Malibu shoreline.

Authorities issued an interactive map to help residents determine whether their property is no longer under evacuation orders or whether it remained unsafe to enter.

The National Weather Service predicted Southern California will have rain Wednesday into Thursday, bringing the possibility of mud and rock slides from burn scars.

In October, before the Woolsey Fire and the catastrophic Camp Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the state Department of Water Resources estimated more than 7 million Californians were at risk of flooding and mudslides due to vast areas of land scorched by wildfires.

On Jan. 9, a downpour unleashed a massive debris flow from a vast fire scar through the Santa Barbara County community of Montecito, killing 21 people and leaving two missing.

The Associated Press