The calls started coming just after 5 pm: fire in Malibu Canyon. Bad news about a bad location. Winds slam through there like a derailed freight train, hot and treacherous. Minutes later came the sirens, then the thup-thup-thup of news choppers.
On the bluff here in Paradise Cove we could see everything - flames racing, leaping and spreading, fire copters swooping, dumping water, then vanishing from view in a steamy cloud, traffic at a standstill on PCH, the pulsing red lights of scores of rescue vehicles. A setting sun winked red in a Santa Monica office building while, further across the bay, stacked flights at LAX circled like fireflies.