Corral Wildfire Zone Still Raises Public Concerns in Malibu
• Are Other Malibu Areas Attracting Irresponsible Access?
BY ANNE SOBLE
BY ANNE SOBLE
Firefighters are battling the first major Southland blaze of 2008 in the Sierra Madre area, but Corral Canyon residents are still waging their own warfare related to the Nov. 24 wildfire that claimed over 80 homes and outbuildings and scorched upwards of 4500 acres.
There were no fatalities or serious injuries during the devastating blaze, but some residents are attributing the recent deaths of two longtime elderly residents who lost their homes in the firestorm to the stress of dealing with post-fire complications.
Even residents whose homes survived the fiery inferno are expressing dismay that issues of illegal behavior and trespass on public lands in the area where the fire started are going unresolved.
Some canyon burnouts have served notice that they will file suit against the California State Parks Department for having allowed illegal fires and alcohol consumption to occur on its holdings despite frequent resident warnings of high fire danger.
Residents repeatedly requested the gating of canyon roads that are supposed to be off-limits at night as well as additional patrols to monitor illegal activities.
Five men have been charged with recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, recklessly causing a fire to an inhabited structure, and arson during a declared emergency. All three crimes are felonies with possible sentences of two to four years in state prison for conviction.
Residents, many of whom do not want to go on the record in case they are involved in any of the potential litigation, say people are still regularly spotted going up into the fire zone. These residents are also voicing concerns about the possibility that guns are being discharged in the area.
A number of the people in the fire zone express the hope that the state will sit down and address these access and use issues, not only in Corral Canyon, but on other public lands in Malibu now that wildfire has become a year-round public policy issue.