Man arrested after small Malibu brush fire prompts closure of Pacific Coast Highway

Firefighting crews mass near a small brush fire that broke out before dawn Friday in Malibu.
Friday morning, firefighting crews battled a small brush fire that broke out before dawn Friday near Pacific Coast Highway and Tuna Canyon Road in Malibu.

A man has been taken into custody in connection with a small brush fire that erupted before dawn and prompted the closure of a portion of Pacific Coast Highway for several hours, authorities said Friday.

The fire broke out shortly after 5 a.m. near Tuna Canyon Road in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

By the time crews arrived at the scene, the fire had crept through about half an acre of hillside, Fire Department spokesman Michael Pittman said, and grew to about an acre-and-a-half as it progressed. Crews attacked the blaze from the air and the ground and were able to gain control of it quickly.

The man was arrested on suspicion of arson, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Brad Feder said. It is not clear what kind of device may have been used to ignite the fire, though Feder said it does not appear the blaze was set intentionally.

“It’s a negligent arson charge,” Feder said. “It’s an accident, but it’s negligent.”

Officials think the man may have been homeless or transient and living in an encampment.


The California Highway Patrol closed all lanes of PCH between Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Las Flores Canyon Road while firefighters battled the blaze.

By 6 a.m., the fire’s forward progress had been stopped, and by 9 a.m., all lanes of the highway had been reopened.

No homes or structures were threatened by the fire.