Monday, October 22, 2007

Live Fires of the Rich and Famous

In Malibu, they're not very different from us:

Some of Malibu's wealthy denizens may reign over Hollywood, but Mother Nature has once again shown who's really in charge of their picturesque seaside retreat.

Since wind-driven wildfires erupted in Malibu's canyons before dawn on Sunday, hopscotching flames and embers have wrecked havoc on this affluent enclave in the hills and beaches west of Los Angeles for the second time this year.

....Five homes were destroyed on Sunday, including a landmark castle that belonged to philanthropist Lilly Lawrence, who estimated her losses "way up in the double-digit millions."

....A-list actors like Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson and Sean Penn have property in the area, as do singers Sting and Olivia Newton-John. Media mogul David Geffen recently invested some of his considerable wealth in the Malibu Beach Inn, turning the landmark lodge into a luxury hotel.

With the outbreak of fire, Geffen opened the inn to two dozen evacuees for free, as well as to 80 firefighters who slept there in shifts.

"Why be empty? I'd rather it go to good use," managing director Alan Goldschneider said. "They try to throw down money and their credit cards, but we're not charging a soul. They're saving our houses."

In a similar vein, a local supermarket established a special no-charge checkout lane for firefighters and other emergency personnel.

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