By LIAM SHEJI
A small brush fire in Malibu, Calif., north of Los Angeles, began early Monday morning, prompting temporary evacuations and threatening structures.
A heat wave resulting in near-record high temperatures was recorded throughout Southern California on Sunday. The heat, along with the powerful Santa Ana winds gusting up to 40 m.p.h., prompted red-flag fire warnings.
First reports of the fire were at 3:15 a.m. in the 23500 block of Civic Center Way in Malibu. The fire in close vicinity to populated areas led officials to issue mandatory evacuations in the Harbor Vista Drive, Colony View Circle and Malibu Crest Drive areas.
An initial estimate of the blaze was around six acres, but the figure was then narrowed to about 2.6 acres. By 5 a.m., containment was at 95 percent and by 5:30 a.m., local evacuations were lifted. Little to no structural damage was reported.
The L.A. County Fire Department reported that the fire was ‘suspicious in nature’ and that an investigation to determine the cause of the fire will be conducted. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but fingers point to a homeless encampment. The investigation is ongoing.
Cal Fire, a subset of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, reported that nearly 120 fires have occurred though Jan. 21 this year. California’s five-year average for that time frame is 86. Red-flag conditions will remain active for the region until the end of the week.