Memories of ’56 fire


Having grown up in Malibu in the ’50s, I am always interested about what is happening in Malibu and especially when there is a fire. Your Web site has the best information I have found.

Reading the current story brings back strong memories of the 1956 fire when I was in sixth grade at Webster. The first my family knew about that fire was a phone call at 6 a.m., the day after Christmas, from a friend who lived in Ramirez. Our family never having seen a brush fire before jumped in the car and went to look. We stopped near County Fire Station 71 (I think it is 71; it has been a long time) and watched the fire burn across the area where Kanan Dume Road meets the Pacific Coast Highway now. It was kind of exciting at that point. We did not know what was happening in the Broad Beach Road area at that time or we might have been more concerned. We went home and started our day like nothing was wrong except to go up the hill behind the house and watch the fire get closer. We could see the fire working its way along winding way getting closer to our house on Sea Vista Drive.

About 5 p.m. it was decided that my mother, brother and I would go to a friend’s house in the Pacific Palisades. Dad would stay behind to look after the house; the pet goat would be taken to a plowed field across the Pacific Coast Highway from the end of Sea Vista Drive. I took care of the goat and we left.

About midnight we got a call from Dad to say that the fire had gone by and the house was still standing. Going back getting though the roadblocks and returning home was an adventure in itself. I will never forget how much was gone; the house and garage was still there but not much else —it was all white ash. Today I can tell you it is much easier to be in Malibu than to watch from a distance in Soquel California (Santa Cruz County). To the sixth graders at Webster I would say you will remember this current fire all your life as the 2007 fire.

Just another note about Malibu: one of my friends who also left and came back, when contacted by email responded with four words, “I made it back.” I guess a part of us never left. Thank you for the good coverage of Malibu all these years.

Victor S. Linderholm