Fire erupts in Malibu
MALIBU, Calif. – A wildfire fanned by Santa Ana winds destroyed eight seaside mansions and damaged five others Monday as it spread over more than 10 acres in this celebrity enclave, authorities said.Flames boiled furiously out of the skeletons of million-dollar beach homes as palm trees bent in winds blowing at 21 mph.More than 300 firefighters battled the blaze, which began about 5 p.m., said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Ron Haralson.The blaze erupted near West Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon Road. Residents were being evacuated on the west end of the canyon road, Sheriff’s Sgt. John Hocking said.TV news helicopters shot scenes of a large area of flame blowing down the slopes toward shoreline homes, with lines of flashing lights from emergency vehicles that converged on the area. Winds appeared to be blowing the fire toward the ocean rather than up into steep, brushy canyons.”It’s so windy out there, it’s kind of scary,” said Roberto Cardenas, an employee at Coogies Beach Cafe.Firefighting help was requested from the city of Los Angeles and neighboring Ventura County, Inspector Sam Padilla said. Two helicopters were on the scene, and two more were summoned.”We’ve been seeing fire trucks screaming by,” said Mike Gibson, manager of Diedrich Coffee, just over the hill from the fire.The fire burned near the Malibu Colony, one of the area’s original beachfront neighborhoods, dating to the 1930s. The densely built stretch of luxury homes has been a favorite of movie stars over the years.Malibu has frequently been the scene of devastating fires. In 1993, hundreds of homes were lost and three people were killed. A 1996 fire injured 11 people and destroyed six homes.The fire was less than a mile from Pepperdine University, but there was no immediate threat, spokeswoman Molly Drobnick said. “It’s less than a mile away. There is quite a few flames. It’s a pretty big fire.””Red flag” fire danger warnings had been posted for much of Southern California because of strong north and northeast winds and low humidity.Santa Ana winds blow when high pressure forms over the Great Basin and cold, dry air rushes out of the north or northeast toward the coast, reaching high speeds through canyons and passes.
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