Fires and Floods: High Winds Batter South Central California Coast

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Los Angeles County Fire Department “superscoopers” work to extinguish flames threatening structures off Latigo Canyon Road in Malibu on Friday afternoon.

A fire broke out off Latigo Canyon Road about two miles north of Pacific Coast Highway on Friday afternoon, Dec. 11, and burned for about an hour before being extinguished by a team of firefighters from Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD). No injuries or damage occurred due to the brush fire.

Wind in the area of Ventura Harbor peaked around 1 p.m., with sustained speeds over 20 mph and gusts to 26 mph. Wind reached 17 mph in Malibu Friday, with gusts to 31 mph.

The fire, which was contained at four acres, was spurned on by heavy winds that battered the coast of California in Los Angeles and Ventura counties Friday, causing wave damage to the Ventura Pier and flooding in low-lying Ventura neighborhoods. Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties were under wind advisories, high surf advisories and coastal flood advisories last weekend.

The fragile Malibu Pier, which is in line for repairs at the beginning of 2016, did not suffer damage from the elevated surf.

Fire in Malibu

The fire in Latigo Canyon was reported at 12:26 p.m. and units were on scene by 12:30, according to reports from LACoFD spokespeople.

“[Wind] is our biggest struggle right now; the fire is going uphill, it is windy, and we’re battling that right now,” Firefighter Specialist Chris Reade told The Malibu Times at 1:05 p.m. on Friday.

The fire grew from about 2.5 acres to about four acres before being knocked down, with the aid of 195 firefighters and superscoopers — helicopters that use ocean water to douse flames.

No structures were damaged in the blaze.

Photographs of the blaze taken by Eyewitness News 7 appear to show smoke rising up toward the home of rocker Axl Rose, the frontman of legendary rock group Guns n’ Roses.

This was confirmed by a social media post published by Rose on Friday afternoon that read, “Thank You to the [firefighters]! At it yet again! Thanks for the fast response.” The post was accompanied by a picture of a group of firefighters walking amongst the embers.

Though the fire was contained at 1:36 p.m., roads in the area were closed until nearly 4:30 p.m., due to what firefighters call a “mop-up” of the area.

“We have to make sure there’s no areas that could reignite,” explained LACoFD Inspector Randall Wright. “It’s just like a campfire. When you’ve got big pieces of wood burning, they stay hot for a long time.”

Flooding in Ventura

The Ventura Pier was closed Friday at about 7:10 a.m., according to reports from KTLA. A dramatic video published by KTLA shows waves battering and damaging the pier and washing over walls and into the driveways of homes in the Pierpont Neighborhood of Ventura, south of the pier.

The Ventura Pier — which first opened in 1872, making it 33 years older than the Malibu Pier — has remained closed since Friday and Ventura Police do not have an expected date for it to reopen as of Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Damage to the Ventura Pier is reminiscent of damage sustained to the Malibu Pier in August of last year, during Hurricane Marie. That damage is scheduled to be mended beginning as early as January 2016, during which time 39 pilings will be replaced in an effort to stabilize the pier for the predicted El Niño.