Fire Burns 40 Acres in Canyon Above Malibu Pier Friday

A fire that broke out in Malibu on Friday afternoon burned about 40 acres of dry brush in Eastern Malibu—but flames were knocked down within four hours, leaving no injuries or structure damage in their wake.

Initial calls about the fire came in to the department shortly after 11 a.m. on Friday. By 11:15 a.m. eyewitnesses reported seeing a plume of smoke over the top of the ridge line beyond the Malibu Chili Cook-Off site.

The smoke was traced back to a three-acre fire that had broken out in the area of Sweetwater Canyon just above its intersection with Pacific Coast Highway. According to initial reports from the LA County Fire Department, the fire had “moderate spread” as of 11:32 a.m. with no structures threatened. The fire was creeping uphill—away from the highway.

Wind speed in the Malibu Hills was measured at eight miles per hour around midday Friday, according to the National Weather Service, with 55 percent humidity at 82 degrees Fahrenheit. 

During a phone call with The Malibu Times a little after noon on Friday, a public information officer from the fire department stated no structures at the time had been damaged and none were threatened. Conditions were “favorable” to fight the fire at Sweetwater Canyon in Malibu on Friday afternoon, according to LA County Fire Inspector Sky Cornell. 

“We don’t believe this fire’s going to exceed 25 acres,” Cornell told The Malibu Times on Friday around 12:12 p.m. “We don’t foresee any issues with any structures with this fire.”


Winds were sustained at 5-10 knots, meaning wind was not a major factor in the firefighting efforts, the inspector said.

As of 12:12 p.m. Friday, about 200 firefighters were on the scene of the fire, including four total aircraft—three from LA County Fire and one from the LA City Fire Department.

Sweetwater Mesa Road was closed during firefighting efforts and, although traffic crawled along PCH for the duration of the fire, the highway remained open throughout.

By 12:37 p.m., fire department estimates had put the estimated total acreage of the fire up to 10.

Firefighters were “making good progress” on the 10-acre Sweetwater Fire in Malibu as of 12:45 p.m. Friday, according to LA County Fire spokesperson Austin Bennett, who spoke briefly with the Times.

There were no evacuations in place and Bennett confirmed there had been no reported injuries or medical calls related to the fire.

As of 12:45 p.m., there was zero percent containment of the fire, but firefighters had hoses laid on both the right and left flanks, indicating good progress.

Together with three LA County helicopters and one LA City Fire helicopter, CalFire sent two fixed-wing air tankers from Hemet in San Bernardino County, Bennett said.

At 1:12 p.m., the fire was reported at 40 acres but forward progress had stopped. Containment was at 12 percent.

By 2:58 p.m., the fire was 95 percent contained.

At the time the fire broke out, Malibu City Hall was closed for the Labor Day holiday; however, city officials began sending out reports and updates on the fire beginning at 11:41 a.m. to those registered for emergency alerts through Nixle or through the city’s website, The final update from the city came at 4:19 p.m., reporting mop-up was continuing on the fire, which had been 95 percent contained.

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