California wildfire claims eight mansions in Malibu


Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

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 at West Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon Road, said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Ron Haralson.

The blaze erupted about 5 p.m. 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 flames blowing down seaside slopes toward shoreline homes. Winds appeared to be blowing the fire toward the ocean.

"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.

Malibu has frequently been the scene of devastating fires, with its steep, brushy canyons funneling winds into luxurious neighborhoods where Pacific views draw movie stars and millionaires.

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