Skip to comments.In 1961, the Bel Air-Brentwood Fire burned more than 500 structures
Posted on 12/10/2017 12:59:16 PM PST by SamAdams76
Multiple fires sweeping through Los Angeles are creating nightmarish scenes that, for many longtime residents, may bring back memories of the Bel Air-Brentwood Fire of 1961arguably the most destructive in the citys long history.
The blaze started the morning of November 6, and at at 8:15 a.m., a construction crew reported that brush was burning above Stone Canyon, just off Mulholland Drive. As former Los Angeles firefighter Frank Borden recalled in 2015, a dark billowing cloud of smoke soon began to appear above the canyon, making it clear before many fire crews were even dispatched to the scene that this would be the big one.
Just 11 minutes after the fire was reported, officials issued a request for air tankers. By 8:30, a major emergency was declared.
The speed with which firefighters responded wasnt enough to stem the rapid spread of flames, fanned by 25 to 50 mile-per-hour Santa Ana winds and accelerated by a humidity level of just 3 percent in parts of the city.
The fire spread throughout the morning and afternoon before the winds died down around 3 p.m., and firefighters were able to begin stemming its growth. Complicating matters, however, was the outbreak of a second fire near Topanga Canyon, now known as the Santa Ynez Fire.
Though it destroyed little property, the Santa Ynez Fire eventually burned 8,560 acres and forced firefighters across the county to divide up resources rather than focusing entirely on either blaze.
The Bel Air-Brentwood Fire, meanwhile, burned through more than 6,000 acres and claimed more than 500 structures on some of the nations most valuable real estate.
Among the casualties: the residences of stars like Zsa Zsa Gabor and Burt Lancaster.
As the Los Angeles Times reported years later, other celebrities fought to save their homes. Maureen OHara and Fred MacMurray stubbornly refused to evacuate and managed to mitigate the damage to their properties.
Richard Nixon, then renting a house on North Bundy Drive, took to the roof with a garden hose, saving the home (along with a draft of his memoir, Six Crises).
Though not the most deadly fire in Los Angeles historythat would be the Griffith Park Fire of 1933, which claimed the lives of 29 trail workers who attempted to fight the flamesthe Bel Air-Brentwood Fire did the most damage to the citys built environment (and no doubt led to quite a few valuable insurance claims).
Hes wearing a tie and his sleeves are buttoned.
Oh my.....wooden shingles on a house in CA? Asking for trouble.
I'm certain there is also a photograph of a Hollywood Blond Bombshell (can't recall which one) standing on the roof of her home, and her blouse is soaking wet because of the high winds blowing water spray back on her.
A magnificent PR photo, but possibly from a different year.
I remember watching Brian Williams’ live reports on this fire! (We had just set up our new 60” HD TV)
The event is seared into my memory.
The fire would skip some of the houses. The reason those houses were skipped and weren't burned was because they had fire-proof roofs. All those that burned had wooden shingles.
I guess they didn't learn anything.
What a hoot! Future Potus working to save his property, now we have Hollyweird buffoons claiming the Potus started the fire that threatens their property.
However, if the brush or tree goes up next to a cement tile roofing, it can and will ignite the underlying wood framing, not mention the wood framing on the inside of stucco. It's called heat radiation.
Saw a TV video last night where one side of the street was in ashes, but the firefighters were able to stop it from crossing the street. The destroyed homes were of the same newish development and all had cement shingles.
But yes, wood or composite shingles are just asking for it.
It was a rental property. And on Bundy Drive. Does that sound familiar?
The “New Normal” since 1961.
I remember it well. We lived in Brentwood.
Haha ... slacks and shoes!
Yes, I used to drive it often. For out-of-towners, it was the OJ Bundy Crime Scene.
“Brian Williams live reports...” “... our new 60 HD TV.”
Now that’s funny!!
Wood shake shingles were all the rage. I’m not sure any insurance companies will insure such a house today.
I have wood shingles still. Where I live we were required to have them. they look good, a whole lot better than composite.
I have concrete shingles. I’m not in a fire area, but I know folks here whose insurance companies either wouldn’t renew or charged a huge premium for wood.
It was seared into my memory because he pronounced it “Burntwood”, not “Brentwood”.
...Those darned handwritten cue cards!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.