Hollywood stars flee killer wild­fires as Mal­ibu man­sions go up in flames

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - News - Nick Allen in Wash­ing­ton

AT least two peo­ple were killed and Hollywood stars fled as wild­fires raged through the celebrity en­clave of Mal­ibu yes­ter­day, burn­ing mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar man­sions and leav­ing apoc­a­lyp­tic scenes of de­struc­tion wor­thy of a block­buster film.

Nine peo­ple died as a sep­a­rate blaze in the north of the state — the most de­struc­tive fire ever in Cal­i­for­nia — in­cin­er­ated the town of Par­adise, burn­ing 6,700 build­ings.

In south­ern Cal­i­for­nia, near Los An­ge­les, 200,000 peo­ple were evac­u­ated, in­clud­ing Mal­ibu which stretches for 27 miles along the Pa­cific Ocean.

It is home to 13,000 wealthy res­i­dents, in­clud­ing some of Hollywood’s big­gest names. Char­lie Sheen, the ac­tor, launched an ap­peal to find his fa­ther Martin Sheen, who lives in Mal­ibu and could not be con­tacted. The older Sheen later turned up at a beach evac­u­a­tion spot.

Ad­dress­ing his son via a TV cam­era, Martin Sheen said: “We’re fine, we’re at Zuma Beach and we’re prob­a­bly go­ing to sleep in the car tonight.” He said it was the worst fire he had seen af­ter liv­ing in Mal­ibu for half a cen­tury.

Lady Gaga was also evac­u­ated and pho­to­graphs showed smoke swirling around her man­sion.

Will Smith posted videos on­line of the fire ap­proach­ing his home and said he was evac­u­at­ing his fam­ily. “Our house is there... and the fire is right there,” he said. “I don’t like it so we are go­ing to go.”

The home of Cait­lyn Jen­ner, Amer­ica’s most fa­mous trans­gen­der per­son, re­port­edly burned down. “I don’t know if the house made it or not, it’s still up in the air,” she said.

Kim Kar­dashian, the re­al­ity tele­vi­sion star, and her fam­ily were evac­u­ated from nearby Cal­abasas.

“I heard the flames have hit our prop­erty. I just pray the winds are in our favour. I’m just pray­ing ev­ery­one is safe,” she said.

Cher, who has lived in Mal­ibu since 1972, said the wild­fire was com­ing close to her home, al­though she was not there. “Friends’ houses have burned. I can’t bear the thought of there be­ing no Mal­ibu,” the singer said.

Flames ripped through the Para­mount Ranch in Mal­ibu, de­stroy­ing a Western town that was used as a film­set for a host of cow­boy films and TV shows since the 1920s. The blaze also jumped the Hollywood free­way in places and burned through the canyons out to the Pa­cific coast.

Those who own, or have owned, homes in Mal­ibu in­clude Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Ni­chol­son, Jen­nifer Anis­ton, Halle Berry, Char­l­ize Theron, Brad Pitt and Rob­bie Wil­liams.

There were sur­real scenes as Mal­ibu res­i­dents fled to beaches with pets, in­clud­ing horses and lla­mas, which were then tied to life­guard huts. The gi­ant plume of smoke hov­er­ing over Mal­ibu was vis­i­ble from space.

“This fire is like Ar­maged­don. It’s out of con­trol,” said Char­lie Dresser, a Mal­ibu res­i­dent.

Cal­i­for­nia has en­dured drought con­di­tions for many years. How­ever, Donald Trump blamed mis­man­age­ment for the de­struc­tive fires and threat­ened to with­hold govern­ment fund­ing in fu­ture. “Bil­lions of dol­lars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all be­cause of gross mis­man­age­ment of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed pay­ments!” the US pres­i­dent wrote on Twit­ter.

Other ar­eas evac­u­ated in­cluded Thou­sand Oaks — the scene last week of the lat­est US mass shooting when a gun­man shot and killed 12 peo­ple at a bar.

In north­ern Cal­i­for­nia the wild­fire that raged through Par­adise, a town of 30,000 peo­ple, caused res­i­dents to evac­u­ate in panic, with some crash­ing their cars and flee­ing on foot. Some drove through walls of flame as a ‘fire­nado’ — a burn­ing whirl­wind — loomed be­hind them.

FIRE STORM: A man uses a shovel with dirt to try to stop the flames ap­proach­ing. Above, Cher, who has lived in the area since 1972; Martin Sheen, who slept in his car at a lo­cal beach; Cait­lyn Jen­ner, whose house was thought de­stroyed; and Kim Kar­dashian, who had to flee for her life Laura Larkin and Wayne O’Con­nor

GET OUT: Lada Gaga flee­ing her house as the smoke bil­lows

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