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Bel Air wildfire threatens homes of Rupert Murdoch, Elon Musk, many celebrities

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 12/7/2017 Mike Murphy
a blurry image of a city: A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on the vineyard estate of media mogul Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday. © Provided by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on the vineyard estate of media mogul Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday.

The wildfire that roared to life Wednesday morning in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles is threatening the vineyard and home of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, as well as the homes of Elon Musk and a number of celebrities.

Los Angeles County firefighters noticed part of Murdoch’s vineyard was burning Wednesday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reported, and they pried open his gate to battle the flames. Helicopters were also seen dropping water on the fire.

Murdoch, who owns 21st Century Fox Inc. (FOX)  and MarketWatch parent News Corp. (NWSA) , bought the 16-acre Moraga Vineyards estate in 2013 for $30 million. The property includes a vineyard, winery, a three-bedroom main house and a guest house.

“We are monitoring the situation as closely as we can and are grateful for the efforts of all the first responders. Some of our neighbors have suffered heavy losses and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time,” the winery said in a statement.

The area Murdoch lives in, a gated community called Brentwood Country Estates, is also home to his son, Lachlan Murdoch, rapper and music producer Dr. Dre. and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Elsewhere in the area, comedian Chelsea Handler tweeted that she had evacuated her Bel Air home Wednesday morning. Actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez also own homes in Bel Air, but it was unclear if they were in the mandatory evacuation zone.

Tesla Inc. (TSLA)  co-founder and CEO Elon Musk also owns five homes in Bel Air, totalling about $72 million, according to a CNN report.

Bel Air, a hilly, exclusive area north of the UCLA campus, last suffered a serious wildfire in 1961, when more then 500 homes were destroyed.

The blaze in Bel Air, called the Skirball fire, started early Wednesday morning and caused an hours-long closure of the busy 405 freeway. The fire is burning near the famed Getty museum, and is one of several threatening homes across Southern California, with wind-whipped flames forcing more than 100,000 people to flee.


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