malibu-wildfire.jpgUPDATED: TMZ confirmed Tuesday morning that the home of Suzanne Somers and husband Alan Hamel burned to the ground. “It started big and hot and exploded,” infomercial queen Victoria Principal told the LA Times while hosing down her Malibu house. “The wind was swirling. It moved so very quickly.” The paper cited property records that Mel Brooks lives/lived in the immediate area where huge wind-whipped flames burned for three hours along the beaches of Malibu tonight over 20 acres where Pacific Coast Highway meets Malibu Canyon Road and down to old Malibu Road. They started as a small and simple brush fire on a bluff around 5 p.m. less than a mile from the school, then grew and leaped across PCH, and went right for the $5 million plus beach mansions which are getting worst of it. Real estate in this Hollywood celebrity and mogul enclave, including the famed Malibu Colony one mile away, is some of the most expensive in the U.S.. Fire officials weren’t releasing the names of whose mansions burned down. But, remember: not all the residents of this area are gazillionaires. Others are elderly homeowners who decades ago bought their lots, built on the old wooden pilings along the beach, and saw property values soar into the stratosphere. The flames were contained by 8 p.m. Luckily, the fires didn’t reach into the upper canyons. Officials initially said 8 homes were lost, but after full containment was achieved, officials cut that number in half. So, 4 seaside homes and a guest home, burned to the ground, and 4 other homes were damaged. Some 300 firefighters were on the scene battling to protect more structures. Pepperdine wasn’t threatened because the Santa Ana winds blew flames and smoke towards the sea.
Local weather created ideal conditions since it was 87 degrees in downtown Los Angeles today with low single digit humidity and high winds. TV news talk earlier in the evening discussed how the inferno was reminiscent of 1993 which burned hundreds of homes and caused deaths. A 1996 fire injured 11 people and destroyed six homes. All night, PCH was a mess and open to residents only. (Sounded like everyone is hanging out at Duke’s.) Malibu Canyon Road also closed. Evacuation set up at Malibu high school. Power outage for a time in the fire area as well. My opinion is that KCBS, local Channel 2 news, had the best coverage of the inferno; webcast.