Wildfires putting SoCal under siege
Raging fires erupting from Malibu to Mexico over the weekend displaced showbiz folks from their homes, but wealthy industryites who call Malibu home found it hard to leave creature comforts behind and fled to the city’s high-end hotels and resorts.While flames forced thousands of San Diego residents to move into high school gymnasiums and Qualcomm Stadium, Angelenos fled Hollywood style. Reservation managers at Shutters on the Beach and the Viceroy in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills’ Peninsula and the Four Seasons Hotels all reported being fully booked for the rest of the week because of the fires not only in Malibu but also San Diego. Bookings at some of the properties had been light, even with the Hollywood Film Festival taking place this week, until the fires broke out on Sunday. The second major fire to hit Malibu’s hills and beaches this year destroyed five homes Sunday, including Castle Kashan, a fortress-like mansion that belonged to philanthropist Lilly Lawrence and served as a location for production shoots and community functions. The fires were big news, with TV reports making it appear as if L.A. were in the midst of Armageddon. But to those in town, it was life as usual. Still, Malibu residents like Jeffrey Katzenberg were covering homes with fire-retardant foam to fight off the flames, while David Geffen opened up his recently renovated Malibu Beach Inn to firefighters and rescue workers for free. The fire shut down the stretch of Pacific Coast Highway that runs through the area, and more than 200 residences were evacuated. The city is home to such celebs as Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Mel Gibson, James Cameron, David Duchovny, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Aniston, Sean Penn, Mel Brooks and Sting. Also evacuated was the Promises rehabilitation center, which gained notoriety for having treated the likes of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. Summer party houses, sponsored by Polaroid and LG, were threatened, with the latter singed by the flames. Paris Hilton’s home just steps away up the beach was unaffected. And it wasn’t just Malibu that felt the heat. Industryites living in Canyon Country and Santa Clarita saw their commutes into L.A. affected. Area’s become a hotbed for film and TV productions, with Santa Clarita Studios housing the sets of CBS’ “NCIS” and “The Unit.” The Malibu fires were said to be close, but not enough to shut down productions. Still, some staffers were unable to make it to work due to heavy traffic on highways and blocked roads. Fox’s “24″ was shooting in Irvine Monday morning, at a former naval station, but had to stop because the production was downwind of blazes in that area. Crews had to abandon gear after authorities blocked access to the roads leading to the station. The flameups in Southern California have been hard to contain due to recent droughts as well as the gusty Santa Ana winds and high temperatures. Temps are expected to climb even higher today.