Malibu wildfire threatens Pepperdine University
October 23, 2007
__Strong winds endanger many homes along the Malibu Crecent__
A wildfire that broke out late Saturday in Angeles National Forest near the Golden State Freeway threatened Pepperdine University and over 200 homes in the Malibu Crescent of California.
p. Santa Ana winds of over 60 miles per hour drove fires through more than 1,000 acres along California’s coast and forced the closing of the Pacific Coast Highway. By Sunday, hundreds of homes in the Malibu Hills, along with Pepperdine University were evacuated.
p. “We’ve been through this before, but it’s never been this bad,” Mitra Rajabi, a California resident coming to pick up her elderly mother said.
p. The flames were last seen blowing toward the Hughes Lab Technology Research Campus, a research laboratory owned jointly by Boeing Co. and General Motors Corp. Currently, power is out at the university, but the cafeteria and the basketball arena (where students and faculty were evacuated) have generators.
The flames also destroyed a Presbyterian church and several homes including Castle Kashan, a home belonging to the Malibu philanthropist Lilly Lawrence. So far, there have been no casualties.
p. “That’s the really good news, that everyone’s out and safe,” Eric Smith, youth pastor of the fire-engulfed Malibu Presbyterian Church, said.
p. Five hundred firefighters from the Los Angeles County Fire Department along with Forest Service employees have been fighting the flames both on the ground and in the air. However, helicopters and water-dropping planes were having a hard time keeping the flames under control since the strong winds blew the water off-target before it reached the ground.
p. The Puerco Canyon area was evacuated and a voluntary evacuation is in effect in the Corral Canyon area.
p. After experiencing one of the driest years on record, the Southern California area had long expected a wildfire resulting from a weekend of hot weather and strong Santa Ana winds.
p. Fire authorities believe that downed power lines, found near the source of the fire, may have caused the blaze in Malibu Canyon.
One of the evacuees was still wearing a bathrobe and holding a Chihuahua when she fled.
p. “We’re all scared to death and we have nowhere to go,” she said.