500 Firefighters Redeployed to Fight California Blaze

Full containment of the blaze was expected by Friday.


MALIBU --

Fire crews appeared to have the upper hand Tuesday on the 4,400-acre wildfire near Malibu, and about 500 firefighters there were dispatched to other fire zones, authorities said.

As on 9:45 a.m., no smoke was visible above the Malibu coast and nothing in the area was actively burning, said Ed Schaefer of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Some 1,400 firefighters were assigned to the fire last night, said Inspector Ed Osorio of the county fire department. That number had been reduced to 900 as of mid-morning today.

Crews remained on the lookout for hotspots, authorities said, and full containment of the blaze was expected by Friday.

The fire destroyed or damaged nearly two dozen homes and businesses and prompted hundreds of evacuations, authorities said.

All public schools remained closed today in Malibu. A community meeting was planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Malibu High School, 30215 Morning View Drive, at which officials will brief residents on evacuations and road closures, the city of Malibu reported.

Another community meeting is planned to start at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Agoura/Calabasas community center, 27040 Malibu Hills Road, Calabasas. Further fire-related information is available online at Malibu-Ca.gov.

The so-called Canyon Fire, which began about 4:50 a.m. Sunday, may have been sparked by power lines felled by strong Santa Ana winds, officials said. Gusts to 60 mph pushed the flames into canyons dotted with multimillion-dollar homes.

The flames were about 15 percent contained this morning, the county fire department reported. Six homes and two businesses were destroyed, and nine homes and five businesses were damaged.

Three people suffered minor injuries, the county fire department reported. About 1,500 people were evacuated Sunday as the flames tore through brush and began jumping from rooftop to rooftop.

Malibu Presbyterian Church was among the buildings destroyed. Among the homes destroyed was the Kashan Castle, also known as Hodge Castle, a 10,500- square-foot hilltop landmark built in 1978.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declared a regional state of emergency because of the wildfires burning around the Southland, toured the area yesterday, and said significant progress had been made. He also said the firefight was smoother than the effort in 2003, when a fierce fire tore through more than 17,000 acres in Malibu, destroying more than 300 homes.

Classes were canceled Tuesday at Pepperdine's Malibu campus. Pepperdine University's Malibu campus will reopen for classes and programs beginning Tuesday.

Access to the campus is available via Kanan Road, accessible from southbound Pacific Coast Highway. PCH remains closed south of the campus, and Malibu Canyon Road is also closed.

City Hall was closed Monday, and remained closed Tuesday to the public. However, city staff will be on hand to respond to urgent matters, the city reported.

American Red Cross shelters remained open at Agoura High School, 28545 W. Driver Ave.; and at Pacific Palisades High School, 15777 Bowdoin St., and at Malibu High School, 30215 Morning View Drive.

PCH remained closed between Topanga Canyon and Kanan Dume. Malibu Canyon and Topanga Canyon roads were closed between PCH and Mulholland Highway.

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