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LETTER: A History of Malibu Fires

A list of Malibu wildfires through the years from 1929 through 2007.

LETTER: A History of Malibu Fires

As a resident of Malibu since 1969, I have been a witness to many of the events listed below. I find it difficult to imagine that anyone on the board of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy have any boots on the ground experience in confronting a raging Malibu wildfire. 

Perhaps someone has posted this data before. Regardless, these facts cannot be underscored enough. In building a case against overnight camping in Corral Canyon, the history of devastating wildfires in the Santa Monica Mountains speaks louder than any online petition.

Malibu wildfires through the years:

  • October 26, 1929 – Malibu Colony, 13 destroyed.
  • 1930 – "Potrero," Decker Canyon Road Corridor, 15,000 acres, accidental blaze caused by walnut pickers in Thousand Oaks area.
  • October 23, 1935 – "Malibu" or "Latigo/Sherwood," Kanan/Decker Corridor, 30,000 acres 
  • November 23, 1938 – "Topanga," Topanga Canyon, 14,500 acres 
  • October 20, 1943 – "Las Flores," Malibu Canyon, 5,800 acres
  • November 6, 1943 – "Woodland Hills (Las Virgenes)," Kanan/Decker Corridor, 15,000 acres
  • December 26, 1956 – "Newton," Kanan/Decker Corridor, 26,000 acres, 100 homes, one death, Frank Dickover.
  • December 2, 1958 – "Liberty," Malibu Canyon, 18,000 acres, eight firefighters injured, 74 homes destroyed (17 in Corral Canyon).
  • November 6, 1961 – "Topanga," Topanga Canyon, 8,000 acres
  • September 25, 1970 – "Wright," Malibu Canyon, 28,000 acres, 10 deaths, 403 homes destroyed.
  • October 30, 1973 – "Topanga," Topanga Canyon, 2,800 acres.
  • October 23, 1978 – "Kanan," Kanan/Decker Corridor, 25,000 acres, 2 deaths, 230 homes
  • October 9, 1982 – "Dayton," Malibu Canyon Corridor, 44,000 acres, 15 homes in Paradise Cove destroyed.
  • October 14, 1985 – "Piuma," Las Flores area, Topanga Canyon, 4,700 acres).
  • October 14, 1985 – "Decker," Kanan/Decker Corridor, 6,600 acres. Both arson-caused; six homes destroyed; $1 million damage. 
  • November 2, 1993 – "Old Topanga / North Malibu." In 1993, from November 2 to 11, Malibu experienced one of the largest fires in its history, which burned more than 16,516 acres. Three lives were lost and 739 homes destroyed in the central Malibu/Old Topanga blaze. 
  • October 28, 1996 – "Calabasas," Malibu Canyon Corridor, Brush fire ignited by arcing power line, 13,000 acres; 10 houses destroyed.
  • January 6, 2003 – "Trancas", Trancas Canyon, 759 acres.
  • January 8, 2007 – Bluffs Park in Malibu. The fire hit near the Colony area, burning down four houses on Malibu Road. Officials announced that a discarded cigarette stub started the blaze.
  • October 21, 2007 –  Five homes destroyed, nine others damaged. Two commercial structures completely destroyed. Castle Kashan and the Malibu Presbyterian Church - both destroyed.
  • November 24, 2007 – "Corral." On November 24, 2007, the Corral Fire destroyed 53 homes, damaged 35, and burned over 4,720 acres (19.1 km2), forcing as many as 14,000 people to evacuate. Damages from the fire were expected to reach more than $100 million. The blaze originated at the top of Corral Canyon, where a group of young people who were in closed parkland after dusk had started a bonfire despite the presence of high Santa Ana winds.

Emilio Estevez, Malibu

Patch accepts and publishes letters to the editor and commentary regarding any relevant local issue. The views expressed in the above commentary do not reflect the opinion of the publication, its editor and/or its writers. Emails may be edited for length and clarity. Have an opinion? Write to the editor of your Patch site at malibu@patch.com.

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