Arson suspected in 75-acre Agoura fire

Paula Munoz

A fire broke out in the Calabasas and Agoura Hills areas yesterday afternoon, burning 75 acres but with no property damage or injuries reported. Due to suspicious findings, arson investigators were on the scene, officials said.

The fire, which began in Malibu Creek State Park, was 85 percent contained by 3:30 p.m. and burned between Lost Canyon Road and Liberty Canyon Road from the city of Calabasas to the city of Agoura Hills. At the height of the fire, 150 firefighters and five water-dropping helicopters had been called to the scene. The flames reached the 101 freeway near the Lost Hills exit, according to Paul Hartwell, the fire inspvector PIO with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

‘It did spot the freeway twice but we picked those up real quick with engine companies,’ Hartwell said. There were also voluntary evacuations for the people who live on Lost Hills Road and some on Liberty Canyon Road, Hartwell said.

The fire began at approximately 12:30 p.m., according to Henry Wong, a firefighter with the Los Angeles County Fire Department who was on the scene.

‘We had an engine crew going down the road up Las Virgenes and Lost Hills, and they spotted a column of smoke and that’s pretty much when everything began,’ Wong said. ‘We had structural protection crew rigs in place and there was no radio traffic that I heard that we had lost any structures.’

Local residents who were able to get to their homes’mdash;sections of the 101 freeway were closed and major roads in the area were closed due to the fire’mdash;came home to houses covered in ash and embers.

Although the canyons are considered high-danger areas for fires, some residents were surprised to have it reach so close to their homes.

‘I never thought this hill would burn, but it proved me wrong today,’ said Brett Langenderfer, a resident who lives on Malibu Hills Road in Calabasas. In 2007, the area was hit by the Malibu fire but did not pose a threat to these homes. This fire came within 50 yards of Langenderfer’s home, as well as the police station.

‘I came home from lunch’mdash;it was probably about five till one’mdash;and the whole hill was on fire,’ Langenderfer said. ‘When I got here, it was completely black. You couldn’t see the sun. Yeah, it was pretty scary for about an hour, then they started getting a handle on this. They’re just doing mop up now and that’s a good thing.’