I’ve lived in Malibu all my life.
It took four hours to reach my brother’s home in Seal Beach, and then an agonizing 12 more hours of not knowing what was happening. A week later, we are still fire refugees who still cannot return home because of the mandatory evacuation. We are still waiting to hear the fate of friends and neighbors. There is no official news, only scatted reports on Twitter or Nextdoor, and videos shot by more intrepid neighbors who hired boats to take them back in, or who made it through on back roads. We watch news helicopter flyover videos over and over again, searching for friends’ homes or the places where their homes once stood. The wait and the lack of information is like a physical pain, only alleviated by confirmation that another person has come through safely. Then it’s back to waiting.
My father would have stayed, the way other neighbors did, working all night to put out spot fires and protect as many houses as possible. I couldn’t do that, but I can write about the people like him, who, armed with garden hoses and buckets stayed behind this time and fought the fire. We’ve heard reports that there were few if any fire crews in our neighborhood other than this courageous neighbors. It’s thanks to them that we will have a home to return to, once the evacuation order is lifted. It’s still hard waiting, and not knowing, worrying about friends and neighbors—we know two houses at least burned on our street, and hundreds more nearby, but we will have a house to return to. Many, many families have lost there homes, in Malibu and throughout the Santa Monica Mountains.