Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Bel-Air fire

Bel-Air fire

Nov. 7, 1961: Burned-out homes sit along Linda Flora Drive in Bel Air. The two-day Bel Air/Brentwood fire destroyed nearly 500 homes, but no lives were lost.

Los Angeles Times writer Cecilia Rasmussen wrote in this story:

“Among the most notorious California wildfires, the Bel-Air/Brentwood fire began in a trash heap…..a blaze that left hundreds of the rich and famous homeless in what LIFE magazine called ‘A Tragedy Trimmed in Mink’ and prompted brush clearance laws and an eventual city ban on wood shingle roofs.’

Burt Lancaster, comedian Joe E. Brown, composer Lukas Foss, Nobel laureate chemist Willard Libby and Zsa Zsa Gabor lost homes.

Advancing flames force former Vice President Richard Nixon and his wife Pat to leave their rented home on Bundy Drive in Brentwood. Before leaving, Nixon hosed down the roof. (Los Angeles Times photo).

Film producer Keith Daniels, left, and singer Billy Vaughn in bandages after fighting flames that scorched Daniels’ Mulholland Drive home. (Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA).

Actor Robert Taylor loads Henry into a station wagon as flames threatened his Mandeville Canyon ranch, which was spared. Taylor later said he “drove to Ronnie Reagan’s place.” (Los Angeles Times photo).

Zsa Zsa Gabor’s home on Bellagio Place was destroyed by the fire while she was in New York. Gabor returned to salvage what she could — while wearing a diamond and pearls. (Photo by Bob Martin from KMPC helicopter, Los Angeles Mirror)


  1. November 8, 2010, 8:57 am

    How come nothing on Aldous Huxley's home? How many items of interest lost here?

  2. November 9, 2010, 6:09 pm

    Thanks for the comment on Aldous Huxley’s home. The Los Angeles Times library checked and found that Huxley’s home was lost in a different brush fire on May 14, 1961. Because of your inquiry, we found a good image of Huxley’s destroyed home that will be a future post.

    Thanks again for the suggestion.

    By: Scott Harrison
  3. November 19, 2011, 8:57 pm

    Great Article Scott, I love the information you brought together here.

  4. August 4, 2016, 7:38 am

    I wish there were pictures from further away also here. We watched from our bedroom windows on 10th street in Santa Monica: first the flames, then the blackened hills, and then the red mudslide-torn slide-face. I've never looked at dry trees and overgrown landscaping the same way. All I see is fuel.

    By: janpattersonrn
  5. April 19, 2017, 9:18 pm

    I was a young child and remember the fire department coming to our neighborhood, Scadlock Ln. Sherman oaks, and watering the roofs and land, hoping the wind wouldn’t change. My parents took me to the backyard to watch the fire. Belair , the next hill to our right, was clearly visible. We watched as the flames roared and engulfed the area. The following day, Dad took us down Mulholland Dr. into Belair. Home sights were still smoldering, only brick chimneys standing. I’ll never forget.

    By: Susan Farish Hall

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.


Required, will not be published

Browse All Photos »