Sunday, October 21, 2007

Of a different magnitude

Having survived Maliburn '85 and watched it's repeat in 1993, I'm somewhat sceptical of headlines like this:

Wildfire threatens Pepperdine University...

That is until I started to read. This is already in less than one short day well beyond any previous episodes that I recall:

The blaze had charred at least 1,000 acres, or more than a square mile. Wind that gusted as high as 65 mph carried embers across the Pacific Coast Highway, closing the popular road and setting fire to cars and trees in the parking lot of a shopping center where several stores were damaged.

Television news video showed several other buildings also in flames in the area, including clusters of beach-side homes.

Flames consumed the landmark Castle Kashan, a stately fortress-like home with turrets and arched windows, as about a dozen residents watched from across a street. Chunks of brick fell from the exterior of the burning building overlooking the coast.


Erratic wind gusts hampered efforts to drop water from aircraft and pushed flames toward HRL Laboratories, commonly known as Hughes Lab, a research and engineering facility jointly owned by Boeing Co. and General Motors Corp. about a mile north of Pepperdine. One outbuilding caught fire, Boeing spokeswoman Diana Ball said.

Flames engulfed Malibu Presbyterian Church, which had been evacuated, said youth pastor Eric Smith. “That’s the really good news, that everyone’s out and safe,” Smith said.

In addition, high winds have carried burning embers to the beach-side of the Coast Highway reportedly leading to the burning of several beach-side homes and damage to retail buildings and cars at a shopping center across the highway.

The Castle and Malibu Presbyterian Church both sit on the beach-side of Malibu Canyon road as it runs out of the canyon and begins it's descent to PCH. Both have sat there as landmarks for decades. I'm amazed at the thought they are now gone.

In past episodes such as this LA County firefighters have always dug in at the top of the University which sits carved into a horseshoe in the hillside. There in 1985 and in other years, firefighters waited for the fire to move over and down the hills, killing it before it could damage any of the University structures. With the recently finished Graziadio School of Business now sitting on that hillside, I'm wondering exactly how they'll approach the University's protection.

Video of the Fire Dept. newsconference earlier this afternoon is avaialable here.

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