The wildfires raging in both Northern and Southern California are bringing horrifyingly familiar images to our screens. We’ve seen the heartbreaking death toll, the rubble of homes, the burned-out cars, the mesmerizing glow of the flames, and the thick gray haze over nearby cities again and again in recent years. And these blazes don’t discriminate. In addition to destroying thousands of modest homes across the state, they’ve consumed multimillion-dollar mansions of celebrities in and around Malibu.
Celebrities have been taking to Twitter and Instagram to share heartbreaking shots of their homes in flames or the blackened aftermath. They include singers Miley Cyrus, Neil Young, and Robin Thicke. Actors Gerald Butler and Tracey Bregman and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” regular Camille Grammer also lost their residences to the Woolsey fire.
Thousands of regular people, too, lost their homes in the Southern California blaze, which has consumed more than 90,000 acres and destroyed about 370 structures since Nov. 8, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
Other big names, including Lady Gaga, Cher, Kim Kardashian West, Kayne West, director Guillermo del Toro, rapper Iggy Azalea, actor Orlando Bloom, “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill, and One Direction member Liam Payne have all said they’re waiting to learn how their homes fared in the fires. That puts them in the same boat as tens of thousands of folks whose every move doesn’t make it into the tabloids.
Actor Martin Sheen and his wife, Janet, were among hundreds who fled to a beach in Malibu on Nov. 9, prompting a panicked plea on social media for news of their whereabouts from their son Charlie Sheen. A local TV news crew found the couple and interviewed the elder Sheen.
“Emilio, Ramon, Renee, Charlie … we’re fine,” the actor said, addressing his kids. “We’re at Zuma Beach and will probably sleep in the car tonight.”
Reports of the destruction of the home of Caitlyn Jenner, transgender activist and Kardashian West’s former stepfather, turned out to be incorrect. Similarly, despite reports to contrary, the house used in the ABC reality dating show “The Bachelor” survived the fires, but sets for HBO’s sci-fi western show “Westworld” did not.
The fire, which is only 20% contained, threatens 57,000 more homes as of Monday morning, according to Cal Fire.
The deadlier, larger disaster is the Camp Fire in Northern California, which has killed 29 people and left 200 others unaccounted for since it started on Nov. 8 in Butte County, about 90 minutes north of Sacramento. That makes it the deadliest fire to hit the state in at least 85 years. It had destroyed about 6,500 homes and 260 businesses and offices, and was threatening 15,500 more structures as of Monday morning, when it was only 25% contained, according to Cal Fire.
Butler posted a photo of the charred remains of his Malibu home, just a few burned-out beams, over the weekend on Twitter. He posed in front of the smoky site with a dust mask pulled down around his neck.
Country and pop star Cyrus also posted on Twitter that her house was destroyed and that she was devastated by the fires. But she, actor fiancé Liam Hemsworth, and their animals were safe.
“I am one of the lucky ones. My animals and LOVE OF MY LIFE made it out safely & that’s all that matters right now,” she wrote. “My house no longer stands but the memories shared with family & friends stand strong.”
“Blurred Lines” singer Thicke thanked on Instagram the “courageous firefighters and volunteers” who “risked their lives trying to save our home.” His home reportedly did not survive, but he and his family were safe.
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Last picture of my house. Thank God we are all safe. I have no other words. I’m just numb for us all
Bregman, of “The Young and the Restless,” posted a photo of her burning house on Instagram.
“Last picture of my house,” she wrote. “Thank God we are all safe. I have no other words. I’m just numb for us all.”
Grammer, an ex-wife of Kelsey Grammer, wrote on Instagram that her home was also devoured in the flames. She and her family are safe.
“Sadly my house couldn’t be saved,” she posted. “The courageous firefighters were able to save my cars and personal items recovered from my home.”
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Sadly my house couldn’t be saved. The courageous firefighters were able to save my cars and personal items recovered from my home. I thanked the fire chief and his team of firemen for all of their hard work. He took the time to explain what happened and I’m grateful for all of their hard work trying to save my home. Sad we lost our home but grateful that my family is safe. Luckily we quickly evacuated our house yesterday after a patrol car drove up the street announcing mandatory evacuations. I’m grateful for my lovely neighbors and friends who kept me informed and for their help this evening. Thank you all for caring #woolseyfire #malibu. Special thanks to Fire Chief Rash and his brave team of firefighters.
The territory menaced by the Woolsey fire includes a rich swath of real estate along the coast and in charming hills and canyons that is coveted by the Hollywood elite for its beauty and seclusion that is yet not too far removed from the Los Angeles entertainment industry. A local real estate expert estimated that the devastation would certainly affect the real estate market, although not for long.
Malibu is “not going to be as beautiful as it was. It’s going to be more stark, like a moonscape,” says luxury appraiser John C. Carlson, who is based in Los Angeles. But the area is likely to rebound, as many residents have the money to replace their homes and ruined landscapes quickly.