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The Region's Worst Fires

July 02, 1985

The brush-carpeted canyons and hills of Southern California, fueled by dry weather and Santa Ana winds, have historically created an extreme fire hazard. Here is a list of the worst firestorms in Southern California history.

September, 1970--In what is described as Southern California's worst ever, winds pushed this blaze in a solid 20-mile-long wall from Newhall to the ocean at Malibu. Ten people died, 403 homes were lost and more than 435,000 acres were burned.

April 21, 1982--A four-block area of apartment buildings in Anaheim was leveled by fire. A total of 524 apartments, for a total of $50 million damage, was lost in the fire near Disneyland.

November, 1961 --A fire in the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Bel Air destroyed 424 homes and caused an estimated $25 million damage.

November, 1980--A fire in the Panorama area of San Bernardino County killed five people and destroyed 280 homes. About 23,000 acres were charred in the blaze that caused $39 million in damages.

April, 1980--As many as 240 people were left homeless by a fire in the Orange County area of Tustin. Fanned by winds gusting to 50 miles an hour, the fire destroyed a major apartment complex and resulted in $4.5 million in damages.

October, 1978--While eight major fires burned in the Southland, the worst destroyed 230 homes in Agoura, Malibu and the Mandeville Canyon areas. Forty-five other homes were damaged. In all, state officials estimated that 25,000 acres burned, causing $71.4 million in damages.

July, 1977--In the Sycamore Canyon area of Santa Barbara County, 216 homes were lost for a total of $34 million in damages.

November, 1945--A Malibu fire claimed 150 homes.

December, 1956--A fire in the Malibu, Zuma and Agoura area of Los Angeles claimed 99 homes.

October, 1982--A fire roared through Los Angeles and Ventura counties in the Santa Monica Mountains, claiming 54,000 acres from Canoga Park to the ocean. Thirty-six houses and 49 mobile homes were destroyed. There was an estimated $6.3 million damage.

December, 1958--Gale-force winds swept flames through Malibu, destroying 36 homes. On New Year's Eve, fire consumed 71 homes in Topanga and Benedict canyons.

November, 1980--One person died and 49 homes were destroyed in a fire in the Bradbury and Duarte area of Los Angeles County. An estimated 6,200 acres were blackened in the blaze that caused $15 million damage.

September, 1979--Eighteen homes were destroyed in the Laurel Canyon and Mt. Olympus area of Los Angeles, with $3.4 million in damages.

October, 1982--A fire in the Orange County area of Gypsum Canyon claimed 14 houses and 18,000 acres for a total of $16 million in damages.

October, 1981--Santa Ana winds picked up a fire that started in the dry Chatsworth Reservoir and blew it south toward the Ventura Freeway. Six homes were destroyed and eight damaged.

November, 1980--About 2,600 acres were burned in Stokes and Malibu canyons in a fire that started in virtually the same spot as the disastrous 1970 blaze.

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