Fast-moving fire threatens multimillion-dollar homes in Pacific Palisades


LOS ANGELES COUNTY (KTLA) — Evacuation orders were issued as firefighters working to extinguish a fast-moving brush fire that quickly scorched 40 acres and threatened multi-million-dollar homes in Pacific Palisades on Monday.

The flames erupted shortly around 10:30 a.m.. in the 500 block of North Palisades Drive and quickly burned an acre, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

An hour into the firefight, the Palisades Fire had grown to at least 30 acres and was threatening home along Vista Grande Drive and Charmel Lane, fire officials said.

Mandatory evacuations were issued for an area that spanned the following:

  • Charmel Lane to the west
  • Bienveneda Avenue to the east
  • the end of Lachman Lane to the north
  • Merivale Lane to the south

About 200 homes were impacted by the evacuation order, according to one fire official. An evacuation shelter was set up at Palisades Recreation Center, located at 851 Alma Real Dr.

As of 9:30 p.m. Monday, the evacuation order had been lifted for all areas.

Residents can now return to their homes.

“All persons in this area are directed to leave NOW in a calm and orderly manner,” an LAFD alert stated.

The agency warned of the possibility of changing fire and smoke behavior, as well as the impending arrival of a fixed-wing firefighting aircraft that will drop retardant over the area.

Earlier, residents could be seen fleeing as the fire moved perilously close to home in the upscale community. At one point, some people stood near the edge of the hillside, attempting to spray the flames with water from garden hoses, according to the aerial footage.

More than 300 personnel from LAFD and the L.A. County Fire Department were dispatched to battle the fire by air and ground.

By 11:50 a.m., they were able to beat back the terrain-fueled flames, which at one point ignited trees and other brush in backyards, Sky5 video showed. The fire appeared to be under control less than 30 minutes later, but tall columns of smoke above homes were still visible from miles away.

No structures have been damaged yet, according to LAFD.

The Fire Department initially did not receive any reports of injuries. But later, one person who appeared to be a firefighter could be seen being carried by stretcher to an ambulance. The type of injury was not known, as was the firefighter’s condition.

Santa Ana winds were expected to develop in L.A. County on Monday, but wind was not a factor in spreading the Palisades Fire, according to officials.

In addition to lack of winds, firefighters were also aided by residents being compliant with brush clearance regulations, said Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for LAFD.

“This neighborhood … embraces our brush clearance policy,” he told KTLA. “Back in May we inspected this neighborhood and found excellent compliance.”

In Pacific Palisades, the requirement calls for at least 200 feet of brush clearance from the property, according to Humphrey. He described it as the strictest requirement in the state.

Still, even with strong compliance, the area faces problems and challenges.

“The property you see here, even the green brush, is highly volatile and flammable,” Humphrey said. “So it can fool you at times in thinking what’s in compliance and what’s not, which is what we ask people to have that discussion with firefighters – to look at the materials online and make certain that they’re keeping their home as safe as possible.”

It was not immediately clear what sparked the fire, and the cause is under investigation.

Check back for updates on this developing story. 

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