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Update: PCH Fire Sparked by Contractors Working on Pipe

The LAFD says the fire broke out just after 12 p.m. Thursday on Pacific Coast Highway, just south of Temescal Canyon Road.

According to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey, a fire that broke out on the north side of Pacific Coast Highway just south of Temescal Canyon Road was caused by workers cutting a pipe.

Humphrey said the workers were sawing a pipe in the area at around 12 p.m. on Thursday when sparks flew. Palisades firefighters at said the workers were using an acetylene torch and a spark ignited nearby brush.

The workers did not have a fire extinguisher or access to a hose to take immediate action, according to Humphrey. Humphrey also said none of the contractors had a working cellphone.

"We're asking anyone who lives in a high hazard zone to question the need to do any work that involves high sparks or flame," said Humphrey who recommends anyone doing such work should have a fire extinguisher, hose and working cellphone on hand at all times.

"Even with those precautions, you could still be held liable if you cause loss of property, injury or loss of life," added Humphrey.

Humphrey told Patch that 61 personnel were sent to fight the blaze just after 12 p.m. He said assistance came from all parts of Los Angeles, including water-dropping helicopters that launched from Van Nuys Airport, as well as crews from Sherman Oaks.

One home on Friends Street was threatened for a time, but Humphrey said no formal evacuations were ever in effect. He said the fire was confined to less than one acre, and was under control in less than an hour.

Pacific Palisades Fire Station 23 and were on the scene fighting the blaze. A firefighter from Station 23 said water-dropping helicopters were filling up at Santa Ynez Reservoir as early as 12:18 p.m.

Humphrey said there were no injuries reported. In addition, he said there was no structure damage to the home that had been threatened by the brush fire.

Palisades residents told Patch they could see smoke as far into the Village as the . Residents on the bluff also reported hearing the helicopters and constant sirens. However, traffic was not affected along Pacific Coast Highway Thursday afternoon.

Humphrey said they had augmented resources on both the ground and air in the Palisades area due to the high fire conditions on Thursday. Red flag warnings had been in effect for areas of Southern California, but Humphrey said the city of Los Angeles was not included in that alert.

"It's a good thing we had additional teams at [Fire Station] 69 today," said Captain Michael Ketaily. "It really helped out."

Humphrey wanted to especially commend Palisades residents in the area of Thursday's fire. He said all homes had complied with the strict brush clearance regulations, which requires 200 feet of brush to be cleared up to any structure. He said having that brush cleared made fighting the fire much easier for crews that arrived on the scene.

  • For information on current brush clearance regulations, click here.

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myrna tokofsky October 27, 2011 at 09:52 PM
When it is needed in a more serious situation; we won't have personnel or equipment. Thank your mayor!
Susan Tellem October 28, 2011 at 02:47 PM
Workers putting in a driveway next door at a new home left their fire device to heat the asphalt lying on the ground and no one was watching it but me. I noted the name of the company on the truck and took photos of the open flame in case something happened - I also had two fire extinguishers ready to go. Another reason everyone should join Malibu CERT!
John October 28, 2011 at 05:17 PM
I hope these workers and their company are going to be held liable and have to pay for the damages and labor. You have to be a complete idiot and terribly irresponsible to have this kind of thing happen and not be ready for any kind of emergency. I have done construction for several years and I always had an extinguisher on hand when I was using torches. There is no excuse. The employer needs to handle the crews and tools much better than this. I wouldn't be surprised if the employer didn't even have an extinguisher.
Susan Tellem October 28, 2011 at 05:44 PM
I agree John - I wonder if the company even had a license to do the work.

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