Shortly before noon today (Monday), a resident of the Sea Ridge condominiums on lower Palisades Drive smelled something burning.
By noon, a fire was burning on the hillside between the Highlands apartments located on Sunset Boulevard and Calvary Christian School.
An alert soon went out from the L.A. Fire Department about a brush fire at 548 Palisades Drive, noting it had consumed “100 yards of heavy brush. Firefighters are getting a quick handle on the hot flank while working to get handle lines established around the perimeter.” The wind speed was 11 miles per hour.
Not even a half hour later, the message was updated: “Due to the heavy brush limiting ground access to the fire, additional resources added taking this to a Major Emergency incident status.”
The fire covered about two acres and was burning uphill toward Paseo Miramar. According to LAFD, the fire was “threatening homes (number unknown) at the top of the hill. Air Ops water drops are currently focused on the homes and defending them while firefighters work to get through the brush to continue extinguishment at the head of the fire.”
At 1:10 p.m., LAFD reported: “The tenacious work of over 120 firefighters, from both air and ground, have successfully stopped all forward progress of the fire.”
One firefighter from Station 23 told Circling the News that around noon they received the 911 call and also calls on the business line. As they were trying to pull out, two or three additional cars pulled up in front of the station to tell firefighters the hill was on fire.
The firefighter recommended that people wanting to report a fire should call, instead of driving to a station and blocking the driveway.
Calvary Christian School sent out an alert to parents that children were safe. Some parents elected to come and pick their children up, because as one woman said, “I think we’re all on high alert after what happened in Malibu last year.”
Cars were not allowed to turn on Palisades Drive towards the Highlands and traffic was backed up in both directions. Cars coming south on Palisades Drive were routed to the northbound lane and then out to Sunset.
Around 1:15, L.A. County camp crews arrived on the scene. A firefighter said that the athletic youth “cut the fire break between the burn area and the non-burn area. They’ll be here for hours.”
Circling the News watched as the crews attacked the steep slopes with chain saws and hand tools and started cutting a swath through the heavy brush from Palisades Drive.
Meanwhile, firefighters worked from the top of Paseo Mirmar down toward Palisades Drive. The steepness of the hillside made even standing difficult, let alone holding a hose or wielding an ax or chain saw.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, although several people on site speculated that a workman welding on a fence gate near the start of the fire could have been the cause.
Firefighters said they would be on the site for hours “to make sure we get all the hot spots.” And, a company or two would also be left near the fire to “keep on eye on things.”
LAFD apparatus responding were: FS 23; Batt 9; BC10 BC4 BC9 BP19 CM42 CM52 E19 E23 E237 E263 E269 E290 E293 E37 E43 E51 E58 E59 E62 E63 E67 E69 E71 E88 E95 EM14 EM5 EM55 H1 H2 H5 H6 HA1 HA2 HA5 HA6 PI2 RA23 RA896 T37 T63 T69 and T90.