Rupert Murdoch’s multimillion-dollar property in Bel-Air has been evacuated as possibly damaged, though the owner believes the winery and house remain intact as the Skirball Fire descends on the tony community.
In a statement tweeted by Murdoch’s Moraga Bel Air, Murdoch writes that the situation remains fluid and that there “maybe be damage to some buildings” (read it in full below).
An NBC4 reporter was live from outside the 21st Century Fox exec’s spread this morning as flames approached, but the channel switched to other wildfire coverage before it caught fire.
The 13-acre Moraga Vineyards property was listed as “the only commercial vineyard in Los Angeles” when Murdoch bought it in 2013. He tweeted about the purchase at the time:
The Tom Jones he mentioned is not the singer but the former chief executive at Northrup Grumman, who had lived there since the late 1950s.
It’s been more than a half-century since a similarly Santa Ana winds-whipped fire devastated the Bel-Air community, destroying more than 500 houses including many owned by celebrities. That 1961 blaze led to numerous changes to local fire-safety rules, including mandatory brush clearing and later a ban on wood shingle roofs. At a news conference this morning, a fire official cited the Bel-Air fire and said the conditions were similar to those today.
The Skirball Fire which started a little before 5 AM today at the Northbound 405 Freeway at Mulholland Drive in the Sepulveda Pass area. At press time, it had burned about 150 acres with zero containment. At least four homes have been destroyed, possibly as many as six, and the Getty Center is theatened according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Here is a map of the evacuation area, from the LAFD, followed by a tweet from the Moraga Estate: