‘Suspicious’ Brush Fire Burns Several Acres in Malibu Amid Red-Flag Warning, Record Heat

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A suspicious wind-driven brush fire prompted officials to evacuate several homes in Malibu early Monday morning during a red-flag warning and record-breaking heat in the region.

A firefighter battles a brush fire in Malibu on Jan. 29, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

A firefighter battles a brush fire in Malibu on Jan. 29, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

Firefighters were dispatched to the Civic Center area about 3:17 a.m. when the fire broke out behind the Malibu Library, Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Anthony Williams said.

Crews faced strong winds as they battled the fire, which burned 2.6 acres in a grassy area that last burned in the 2007 Canyon Fire.

The fire was initially estimated to have burned 6 acres, but fire officials later updated the information.

The winds were blowing at 40 mph, "if not stronger," when crews arrived, Fire Department Battalion Chief Eleni Tappas said.

"Favorably, the winds were heading toward the ocean," said Tappas, who explained that the fire was headed uphill and against the wind. "That played in our favor."

A wind advisory was in place until noon for Malibu. And a red flag warning for critical fire weather conditions was in place through Monday afternoon for much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. High temperature records were broken in the region on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

A brush fire burning in Malibu is seen on Jan. 29, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

A brush fire burning in Malibu is seen on Jan. 29, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

The fire threatened the Harbor Vista and Malibu Crest communities, which were placed under mandatory evacuation orders, Tappas said.

More than 200 firefighters kept the flames from damaging any structures, and officials were looking to repopulate the communities within the hour, Williams said just after 5 a.m.

Evacuation orders were lifted about 5:30 a.m., the City of Malibu Emergency Services stated in an advisory update.

An evacuation center was set up for those impacted by the fire at Malibu City Hall.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, but it was deemed suspicious due to the circumstances in which it started, Tappas said.

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