Malibu, CA, Nov. 8 – By 8 a.m., the fire had jumped the 101 Freeway and families began to start their routine evacuation processes. This was the second evacuation of the year for many, who mindlessly grabbed their belongings with the thought that the fire would never actually reach their homes-as it never had before. As time went by, the scent of smoke grew stronger and flames became visible. Finally, when the fires were close enough to strike panic, families piled into their cars, which were packed full from the windshield to trunk window. The cars escaped to Zuma, while some brave fathers stayed behind to fight for their families’ homes-where they had raised their children, hung their memorabilia, and made years of cherished memories. Face to face with the flames and blinded by the smoke, they were equipped only with hoses and buckets of water.
Drill owner and long-time Malibu resident, Craig, didn’t even consider leaving his home. He owned two houses side by side, one that he raised his family in and one that he currently lived in with his wife and children, when they come home for visits. From a young entrepreneur to a small-business owner, he’s always had a tireless work ethic and dedication to success. One of the workers for his properties decided to stay and fight the fire alongside him, for no reason other than his fear for Craig’s life. On the roof of his home, Craig witnessed a fire tornado, approaching relentlessly as it engulfed everything in it’s path. His heart held his feet firmly in place, but his employee physically pulled him off of the roof and into his truck, which sped past the flames on their way out of the drivrway and dodged falling power poles once they got on to the street. Another sixty seconds or more spent on the roof could have meant that they never escaped those flames.
The Zuma beach parking lot was full, as people watched the hills burn through their car windows. On the sand, animals were tied to lifeguard towers, and in the parking lot, they were confined in make-shift pens made out of fences. Everything was smokey, and with no reception, people had to guess the states of their homes based on the flames they saw flooding entire neighborhoods.
After less than thirty minuted at Zuma, Craig headed back to Harvester Road and saw where his houses once stood. The roof he stood on moments before was now part of a pile, made up of hunks of debris and the remains of his house. With no time to grieve, Craig drove down to Drill, his second home, where he spends six to seven days a week, and has made nine years of memories. He watched the fire tear down Trancas Canyon, and at the bottom of the hill, there was Drill. It might have looked hopeless for the small surf store, which stood between wild brush and Pacific Coast Highway, but Craig would never let it go down without a fight. He never left the store’s side, prepared to do everything it took to save the baby he had built. Much like the belongings in a home, the product and merchandise inside was replaceable, but the people it brought together and the memories made there weren’t. The fire came close, but Drill won this one.
Surviving the first day of the fire didn’t guarantee a house would still stand after the days following. Spot fires were constantly arising, which meant sleep was not on the table for those who stayed in town. There may not have been electricity, but so much power was generated by the community. Neighbors formed groups and spent the next few days fending off looters, swimming or stand up paddle boarding to get supplies that were sent in on boats, and ultimately saving remaining houses, even those that didn’t belong to them or anyone they knew. Malibu is a small town, which many of the residents grew up in. Everyone runs in to people they know everywhere they go. The sense of community has never been stronger, because this fire didn’t just take a few houses, it took entire neighborhoods. Coming together, the Malibu community is determined to rebuild, stronger and better than ever. #MalibuStrong