135. 48 Homes Burn Down near Malibu (2)

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Bill told Jimi to look up at the ridge, near the park. Bill thought he saw flames. Jimi went outside with his binoculars. He could see a suspicious glow. Using the binoculars, he could see flames. "God damn it!" he yelled.

He called Bill back. Then he and Bill started calling one neighbor after another, as they had established a fire warning and evacuation plan years ago. The whole community of 98 homeowners managed to get into their cars with their families and pets and just a few of their material possessions. They all survived the raging fire.

Unfortunately, 48 homes were destroyed and 27 were damaged. The fire engines were just not close enough to the community to get there before the Santa Ana winds, gusting up to 60 mph, ripped through the canyon. The next day, firefighters declared that the fire was a result of "human activity," although they hadn't determined if the fire was deliberate or accidental.

Homeowners were allowed to return to their home sites to assess damages. Most homeowners were philosophical about their losses. "We've got our families and our friends. That's far more important than our homes and other possessions," said Eve Grant.

But Jimi Hendrix was less even-tempered. "Common sense would tell anybody that you don't set fires in a wooded area when the wind is blowing like crazy. Any idiot would know that. As far as I'm concerned, these bastards ought to be burned at the stake. And I'd grab me a front-row seat."


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