We have two water districts in Malibu - La Water District 29 and Las Virgenes Water District.
The latter is the more modern district and their water pressure meets the 1250 PSI requirements that is required by the fire department. Also, they have ample storage facilities and virtually never run out of water in the big fires. Therefore, building or buying a home in this water district is a benefit in combatting brush fires. However this district covers mostly all of the mountainside except in Topanga.
District 29 is older and, although they have been slowly upgrading their storage capacity and pressure available at the hydrant, water lines and fire hydrants, many times when we have a fierce fire covering a large area(s) they run out of water for the fire crews to use.
Your construction should be as fire retardant as possible - a wind driven fire catches under eaves or suspended driveways and patio decks or wood facias - so try to avoid these or modify them by filling in the area under them with framing and a fire resistant stucco.
Having the area around your home brush cleared to 400' is the most important step - make sure no trees are overhanging near your home.
Personally and from what the fire dept. (Station 67) told me creating a defensible space is half the battle but not a sure fix or guarantee that your home won't burn. The fire dept. explained that many structures burn once the front of the fire has passed and embers continue to blow and land under decks, eves, etc. The fire dept. said they often move with the front and other hot spots and managing burning embers is impossible. However, they did advise that many homeowners that stay behind do save their homes buy extinguishing embers at their property after the front has passed. Now, they certainly did not recommend staying behind and not evacuate but simply made this point.
At the end of the day creating a generous defensible area around your home, taking other precautionary measures (see link) and having quality insurance on your property is really the best you can do. But, like our immediate neighbor who burned in the last major Malibu fire, embers can come and that's when insurance kicks in.
By the way, the speed and success of the fire dept. resources is truly amazing. We have had a few small fires this summer and they are extinguished within minutes with crews, trucks, helicopters and planes. It's quite impressive.
Chris Sweeney, MBA
Emerald Real Estate Inc.
DRE License #01783091
Please let me know if you'd like more details - happy to pass the info on!
I have lived in the mountains since 1975 and have beenthrought every fire that occurred sice that
time. I have been telling my cleints for the last 35 years one thing!
IF YOU CLEAR THE BRUSH AWAY FROM YOUR HOME IT WON'T BURN!!!
There are many Natural Hazard Zones in California, one of it happens to be Fire Zone. There are many people buying, living and re-selling in those area. It is not for everyone.
Best advice I can give you is search your own comfort level and then you will come up with the answer.
Prudential California Realty
Beverly Hills, CA