A look back at the 1961 Bel Air Fire

There is a history in the Santa Monica Mountains of seasonal wildfire threats. The Skirball Fire is nowhere near as devastating as the one that tore through the neighborhood back when John F. Kennedy was president.

A little more than half a century ago - on November 5th, 1961, a brush fire triggered when a construction crew's equipment threw off a spark and quickly grew into a massive blaze fueled by Santa Ana winds.

Tragically, 484 homes were destroyed and a little more than 16,000 acres burned.

Back then, as it is now…Bel Air was one of the most exclusive places to live in LA and many Hollywood stars were affected, including Burt Lancaster, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Joan Fontaine -- who all lost their homes.

The Bel-Air Fire led directly to changes in the law and fire safety policies.

Wood shingle roofs were subsequently banned in new construction and LA adopted one of the strictest brush clearance policies in the nation.

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