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FEMA Director Surveys Hills Scorched by Fire

Westside

October 29, 1996

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt toured the scorched hills of Malibu Monday, praising brush clearance efforts that saved hundreds of homes and promising federal resources to help prevent damage that could come with winter storms.

"I know it's going to get serious if you get a lot of rain and we want to do everything we can," Witt said.

Witt took an aerial tour of the fire after surveying damage in San Diego County, where brush fires destroyed 117 homes and damaged another 123 structures.

In Malibu, last week's fires caused more than $1.4 million in damage, fire officials said. But, officials added, more than $100 million in property at the edge of the fire was saved by firefighters.

On Monday, fire crews continued mop-up efforts as they battled three hot spots in the center of the charred hills. Firefighters will continue to search out hot spots at night using infrared sensors. The fire should be extinguished within seven days, officials estimate.

Mark Lorimer, interim Malibu city manager, said he hoped Witt's visit would help expedite $2.9 million in disaster relief still unpaid from the 1993 Malibu fires and the 1994 and 1995 floods.

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